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Determining Who Pays for a Child’s College with Divorce

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Determining Who Pays for a Child’s College with Divorce

Determining Who Pays for a Child’s College with Divorce

If you are divorcing, you may have questions about whether it will affect your child’s ability to attend college and if the court will address the matter of paying for it. Divorce affects your financial rights in important ways, and it’s critical to keep your priorities at the forefront as you move through the process, including the priority of sending your child to college. If you have questions related to how divorce will affect paying for your child’s higher education, an experienced Illinois divorce attorney can help you find the answers you are looking for. 

The Court Can Address the Matter of College

While child support generally ends when your child reaches adulthood, Illinois courts can address the matter of his or her higher education – outside of the confines of child support. When deemed appropriate by the court, it can require both parents to contribute financially to their shared child’s college education. 

Based on the Circumstances

Because college tuition is not a matter of child support, there is no formula in place for determining how much each parent will be required to pay toward their child’s college. The baseline, however, is the amount it costs to attend a specific school in the state – the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The costs of attending this university are published, and the amount parents are required to contribute cannot exceed this price range. 

In other words, if your child is attending a private college with a much higher price tag, the court will not require your ex to contribute to the likely significant cost differential. This is how the court maintains a standard of reasonableness and balance regarding parents’ educational obligations for their non-minor children. 

Addressing Payment

If you have no agreement with your ex regarding your child’s college expenses and the court deems parental contributions appropriate, it will likely divide the costs between the following:

  • You 
  • Your child’s other parent
  • Your college-aged child

While any calculation method can be used, the court may require each party to contribute one-third of the total expense. It’s important to note here, that this is for your child’s first undergraduate degree only – the court will not address the matter of a master’s degree or beyond.  

Pre-Existing Agreements

When the court considers the matter of a parent’s responsibility to pay for a child’s college education, it takes any pre-existing contractual agreements into consideration, including any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. If the agreement stipulates, for example, that both of you will contribute half of your child’s college expenses, the court will use this as a starting point – barring any significant change in circumstances in the interim.

Look to an Illinois Family Law Attorney for the Legal help You Need

The focused Illinois family law attorneys at SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, recognize the value you place on your child’s education and are committed to helping you help your child. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.   

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