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Who Pays for My Child’s College after Divorce?

Illinois is one of just a handful of states that address the cost of educating one’s children beyond high school for divorcing couples. While some parents find this off-putting, others find it encouraging. Better understanding your parental rights and obligations in the State of Illinois can help you live up to them and can help you ensure that ex does the same. If you are facing a question or concern related to divorce and your child’s college education, consulting with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney is well-advised.  

Paying for College

Divorced parents are not universally required to pay for college in the State of Illinois, and there is no set payment methodology used when divorcing parents are required to do so. There are, however, some basics that apply. The court has the right to require parents to cover their children’s college educations (addressed as educational expenses for a non-minor child), and this extends not only to tuition but also to all the following:

  • Food and housing
  • Books and supplies
  • Medical expenses (continued insurance coverage)

Further, because colleges and universities range considerably in price, Illinois uses the current cost of in-state tuition for the current academic year at Champaign-Urbana as the standard bearer (and parents are not required to contribute beyond this amount). 

Requirements

The court will also consider the child receiving the education in all the following ways:

  • If the student can afford to contribute to his or her own education, he or she may be required to do so.
  • While in college, the student must maintain a grade point average of C.
  • The student must complete his or her education prior to turning 23 (which can be extended to 25 if there is a compelling reason for doing so.

Upon graduation (with a bachelor’s degree), the parent’s financial obligation ceases. The same is true if the student marries before graduating.

Determining Parents’ Contributions 

In the determination of whether or not one – or both – divorcing parents are required to pay for a child’s education, the courts take the following primary factors into consideration:

  • The financial resources (both present and future) that each parent has available to meet his or her own needs, including retirement
  • The standard of living the child in question would have experienced if the marriage had lasted
  • The child’s own financial resources (if any)
  • The child’s academic performance to date

While the constitutionality of requiring divorced parents to pay for their children’s college costs – when married parents don’t face the same requirement – has been challenged more than once, the Illinois Supreme Court recently upheld this requirement. 

An Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney Can Help

The practiced Illinois divorce attorneys at WARD FAMILY LAW, LLC, have a wealth of experience successfully navigating the financial complexities of divorce, including the matter of establishing who will be paying for your children’s college educations. This is an important parental consideration, and we have the experience and legal insight to help you resolve the matter favorably. Learn more by reaching out and contacting us for more information today.

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