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Who Will Pay for College?

Trying to prepare for financial obligations after a divorce can be stressful. Understanding a new financial landscape can be difficult when trying to assess bills or expenses, such as rent, utilities, car payments, or health care. Preparing for that financial change can be even more challenging when a child is about to start college. College can be a major expense; according to The College Board, the average tuition at a private four-year college is $31,231 a year--and that figure does not include additional costs such as housing, food, and books. While any family preparing to send a child to college is faced with the same financial burden, divorced parents may wonder who is responsible for the cost of college.

Financial Obligations to Children

When people consider providing financial support for children after divorce, the first thing that often comes to mind is child support. According to Illinois law, child support is generally available until a child reaches the age of 18 (or the age of 19 if he or she is still attending high school) and is designed to contribute to the basic needs of the child, including food, shelter, and health care. Illinois law also allows for continued child support for children over the age of 18 or 19 if they are mentally or physically disabled.

when trying to assess bills or expenses, such as rent, utilities, car payments, or health care. Preparing for that financial change can be even more challenging when a child is about to start college. College can be a major expense; according to The College Board, the average tuition at a private four-year college is $31,231 a year--and that figure does not include additional costs such as housing, food, and books. While any family preparing to send a child to college is faced with the same financial burden, divorced parents may wonder who is responsible for the cost of college.

Financial Obligations to Children

When people consider providing financial support for children after divorce, the first thing that often comes to mind is child support. According to Illinois law, child support is generally available until a child reaches the age of 18 (or the age of 19 if he or she is still attending high school) and is designed to contribute to the basic needs of the child, including food, shelter, and health care. Illinois law also allows for continued child support for children over the age of 18 or 19 if they are mentally or physically disabled.

For other children over 18, the court can award educational expenses for high school, college, professional school, or any other training after graduation. However, once a child receives a bachelor's degree, the court no longer has authority to award educational expenses. "Educational expenses," according to Illinois law, are not limited to tuition, but cover additional expenses including room and board, dues, transportation, books, medical expenses, and living expenses - both during the school year and during school breaks.

How Do They Decide Who Is Responsible?

The court reviews a variety of factors in order to determine whether or not to grant an award of educational expenses and to determine each party's contribution--including the child's contribution, if he or she has independent income and assets. Specifically, Illinois law states that, in addition to all other relevant factors, the court should consider:

  • Each parent's financial resources;
  • The child's standard of living had the parents remained married;
  • The child's financial resources; and
  • The child's academic performance.

Contact Our Attorneys for a Consultation Today

Preparing for college can be overwhelming. In addition to choosing a college, and getting your child ready to enroll, trying to understand how to handle the expenses after a divorce can be confusing. Our DuPage County family law attorneys at The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. can help. We can review your case and help you understand your options. Contact our office for a consultation today.

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The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.
1776 S. Naperville Road - Building B, Suite 202
Wheaton, IL 60189

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