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IL family lawyerIf you are currently divorced or soon will be, you probably have questions about the financial implications of your divorce. One issue that many divorced parents are concerned about is their child’s college expenses. The average tuition for an Illinois public college is just under $5,500 a year. For out of state schools, tuition can be upwards of $20,000 a year. The average cost for a private college education in Illinois is almost $30,000 a year. Understandably, most parents experience “sticker shock” when they realize how expensive their child’s college education will likely be. They may also wonder how this cost will be divided between them and their child’s other parent.

Allocation of College Tuition for Unmarried and Divorced Parents

As with many other child-related matters, divorced or unmarried parents in Illinois have the opportunity to determine their own arrangements for financing their child’s college education. If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court may intervene. Parents’ financial responsibility for their child after he or she has turned 18 and graduated high school is referred to as “non-minor support.” Typically, parents are only responsible for non-minor support during the child’s undergraduate degree.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts

Illinois judges have the authority to allocate college expenses between parents who are unmarried or divorced. These expenses may include costs related to tuition and fees, on-campus or off-campus housing, textbooks, and healthcare. If a child is living with one of his or her parents while he or she attends college, the parents may still be jointly responsible for costs related to transportation, food, and utilities. Unlike child support, there is no statutory formula for determining college expenses in Illinois. The amount each parent must contribute to the child’s college tuition and living expenses is at the judge’s discretion. Courts consider the following factors when determining how to allocate college costs:

  • Each parent’s financial resources
  • The child’s financial resources
  • The standard of living the child would have experienced if the parents were married
  • The child’s academic performance

Illinois law uses the present costs of tuition, fees, and housing at the University of Illinois, Champaign / Urbana to set the maximum amount of money a parent can be required to contribute to their child’s college education. The parents’ obligation terminates if the child does not maintain at least a “C” average or turns 23 years old. Upon good cause, such as the child’s medical problems or military service, the parent’s obligation may be extended until the child’s 25th birthday.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

If you are unmarried, divorced, or considering divorce, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help with issues related to child support, the allocation of college expenses, and much more. Schedule a cost-free, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

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Posted on in Child Support

Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child support lawyerBeing hit with the realization that you may be responsible for college expenses for your child on your own following your divorce can be an unsettling experience, especially when there are already so many other financial issues that must be addressed at the end of the marriage. Often, who will pay for your child’s college tuition is the very last thing on your mind in the midst of a separation. Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can properly prepare to fund your child’s college education after you are divorced, beginning with tackling the subject in your divorce decree.

Law Changes that Affect College Financial Responsibility after Divorce

Since 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has evolved to clarify which costs actually qualify as expenses in the state of Illinois, and how those expenses should be handled between divorce parties in a court of law. For example, the newer version of the law includes the cost of up to five college applications in its educational expense standards, and puts a stop to any contributions made to college expenses when the student turns twenty-three years old, with certain exceptions, which must be deemed “good cause”. This means if you are required to contribute to college costs for your non-minor child, the expenses will be justified and limited.

What You Can Do

To ensure your child’s college costs are taken care of once your divorce is finalized, the work ideally begins before you begin the divorce process. This means addressing the issue early on in the decree with a clear, written agreement that takes a number of factors into account, including who will pay for what and at what time, as well as who will pay for the pre-college expenses that are incurred. These things can include standardized test courses and any relevant purchases, like books or other class supplies. Sit down with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and make a list of everything you expect, along with any concerns you have about the arrangement.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyWith the multiple issues that must be addressed during the divorce process, it is understandable that tackling the subject of your child’s future college expenses can feel overwhelming, especially when such educational concerns are not immediate. Preparing to fund an education set to take place in the very distant future may not be the first priority on your list while going through a divorce, but it is still an important task when it comes to securing the proper financial means for your child to expand their education down the road.

Who Is Responsible After the Split?

In many states across the nation, Illinois included, courts recognize a child’s need for a college education. This means the courts may have the right to order one or both parties in the divorce to pay for an array of college expenses for the child they share together. They may do this by tapping into the property and income of each parent, or even through the estate of a deceased parent. The law requires the petition for these funds to be raised within a certain timeframe.

Similar to awarding child support values, the amounts the court may order one (or both) of the parties to pay toward a child’s college expenses greatly depend on the circumstances, and the agreement must be negotiated. The court will take many factors into consideration before determining a certain amount. For example, at the time of the hearing, the party’s financial resources will be taken into account. The court may even look at a new spouse’s income. Say you remarry not long after your divorce and begin petitioning for financial help from your ex for your child’s college costs. If your new spouse makes a significant amount of money that raises your overall income considerably, the court may add that hike in income to the equation. So, the question of who is responsible for your child’s college costs will ultimately depend on a combination of these factors.

Which Expenses Count?

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