In Illinois, basic child support payments end when the child reaches 18 years of age or if the child earns a high school diploma (whichever comes last). During the divorce process, parents can come to an agreement in regards to their child’s continuing education costs. If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can petition a family court to address the matter and possibly assign a fair amount to be divided between both parents and the child. This amount is intended to specific eligible expenses related to college, trade school, or other post-high school education programs (i.e. tuition, housing, textbooks, etc…). Pre-college expenses such as application fees and ACT/SAT test fees could be included in the parental support payment agreement.
Support can be granted for a college-level child until their 23rd birthday or their graduation (whichever comes first). For good cause shown, the court could extend the support until the child’s 25th birthday.
How Is College Expense Support Determined?
Many college students pay for tuition and other expenses on their own. Others are granted scholarships for academic or athletic ability to help with college expenses. Why then would it be necessary to order divorced parents to pay for their non-minor child’s school fees?
For a start, issues like college tuition can be talked about during the divorce process. The state of Illinois believes no child’s education should have to suffer because of a divorce. So, parents are encouraged to make a decision regarding college expenses during the divorce and when the time comes, both are required to follow through. Essentially, the court must decide if the parents would have contributed to the child’s college education if the divorce had never occurred.
If there is no agreement on college expenses in the divorce settlement agreement, an Illinois court will look at several factors to determine if it is appropriate to order either or both parents to pay:
- Both parents’ financial resources and needs
- The child’s academic performance
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The child’s financial resources, including any available grants and scholarships
The matter of college expenses can get messy for single parents who were never married, but the other parent is still in the picture. The first step for single parents is to legally determine that the other parent really is the biological parent. This is often done via a court-ordered DNA test when the child is an infant, so there is generally plenty of time afterward to come to an agreement on college expenses. This is one example of why it is important for a parent to seek legal help from a knowledgeable attorney who can help through the process from start to finish.
Contact a St. Charles, IL Divorce Attorney
College expenses have been rising over the years and every little bit of financial support is helpful. The divorce lawyers from Weiler & Lengle, P.C. can help make sure you and your parenting partner can come up with an agreement for financial aid that serves the best interests of everyone involved. To schedule an appointment with a Kane County divorce lawyer, call 630-382-8050.