Payment of College Expenses in Illinois Divorce
Most parents hope that their children attend college or vocational school after high school graduation, and many want to help their children pay expenses associated with earning that higher education. But with 57.4 percent of all Illinois high school graduates going directly to college, are parents required to pay for their child’s college education? Or does their child support duty end when the child turns 18?
Support for Non-Minor Child’s Educational Expenses in Illinois
In most Illinois child support orders, the obligor parent (the one ordered to pay support) is no longer required to make payments once his or her child graduates from high school or turns 19. However, in some instances, the Court can order child support payments to be paid toward a child’s educational expenses, including college or other professional training.
A final support award can include an order requiring the obligor parent to continue making payments toward his or her child’s educational expenses following high school graduation. This may also require the obligor to make payments for the child’s college expenses, if it was documented in the initial order.
If a divorce decree or child support order made no provision for payment of college expenses, either the parent or child may petition the Court to modify the existing child support order to require payment of educational expenses. This petition may be filed either before or after the child reaches the age of majority, and even after the child has already enrolled in school. Still, the child benefits from an order before he or she enrolls in college – orders for payment of educational expenses are not retroactive; if the child has been enrolled in college for two years before the order has been issued, the parent is not required to reimburse the child or the other parent for expenses already incurred.
When considering a petition to pay educational expenses (or a petition to terminate or modify an existing order to pay expenses), the Court will consider the:
- Financial resources of both parents and the child;
- Standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not ended in divorce; and
- Child’s academic performance.
If the Court orders either parent to make payments toward his or her child’s educational expenses, payment can be made to the child, the other parent, or to the school. Educational expenses may include:
- Room and board;
- Tuition, dues and other fees;
- Registration and application costs;
- Medical expenses, and;
- Living expenses.
The duty to pay for a child’s educational expenses ends when the child earns a degree or drops out of college. The obligor parent can also go back to Court to modify or terminate the support order if, for example, the child wins a scholarship that pays for tuition and expenses, or if the child’s academic performance is failing.
Palatine Child Support Attorney
If your child is attending college, one or both parents may be required to pay at least a portion of your child’s educational expenses. Palatine child support attorney Nicholas W. Richardson has experience obtaining educational expense orders, both during an initial divorce and child support hearing and in modification hearings. He will discuss with you the pros and cons of having the issue decided now or waiting to address it with a modification hearing at a later date. If you live in Palatine or the surrounding Northwest Chicago suburbs, contact the Palatine office today to schedule a free consultation