It is hard to believe that the current school year is already halfway over. Just a few short weeks ago, students of all ages were enjoying their summer break and, now, the fall semester has come and gone, at least in many districts. For high school seniors, the next few months will be full of preparations for college—applying to schools, making a selection, and scheduling their first classes. At the same time, parents of college-bound students will be faced with deciding whether or not to help their children with the costs related to their education. In certain cases involving divorced parents, such decisions may be left up to the court.
A Matter Between the Parents
Illinois law gives family law courts the authority to order one or both parents to contribute to their child’s college expenses, presuming that the parents are divorced or were never married to one another. Such contributions are considered a form of child support, despite the fact that the child, in most cases, is no longer a minor. The authority to order this type of support is based in the recognition that paying for a child’s education is often considered a financial element of a divorce settlement. This means that it is an issue to be settled between the parents, and a college-bound child cannot file a request for such support on his or her own behalf.
Factors the Court Will Consider
In deciding whether to order contributions from either parent, the court must take into account a number of factors, including:
- Each parent’s income, resources, and needs, including those related to retirement;
- The standard of living the child would have expected if the parents had remained together;
- The child’s income and resources, including college savings plans, grants, and scholarships; and
- The child’s academic performance.
Ultimately, the court must determine whether ordering either or both parents to contribute toward the child’s educational expenses is reasonable and in accordance with the terms of the marital settlement agreement. If such payments are ordered, they are limited to certain expenses related to the child’s education, including tuition, room and board, books, fees, and transportation. The student also assumes responsibility for maintaining at least a C grade point average at the risk of losing the ordered assistance.
Planning for the Future
During the development of your divorce settlement, you can include provisions that address funding your children’s college education. By doing so, you can limit future confusion and possible litigation. To learn more or to seek help in paying for your child’s education, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 847-426-1866 or 630-945-8807 for a confidential consultation at Pucci Pirtle today.