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DuPage County family law attorneyA 40-year-old law in Illinois gives the court the authority to compel divorced parents to contribute to their child’s college expenses. We have discussed this law in a number of posts on this blog. Earlier this month, however, a judge in Cook County issued a ruling that found the law to be unconstitutional.

The Case in Question

In 2016, a divorced woman filed a petition asking the court to force her ex-husband to contribute to their 21-year-old daughter’s college expenses. The court used the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) to determine that each parent was required to pay 40 percent of the daughter’s expenses and that the daughter was responsible for 20 percent through grants, scholarships, or a job. The daughter reportedly did not do anything to cover her portion, and her mother covered the difference.

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DuPage County child support lawyersIn most cases, a parent’s child support obligations end when the child turns 18 years of age. However, there are some occasions where a parent may be required to contribute to their child’s expenses and upkeep even after the child reaches majority. The most common occasion is when college comes into question, but others exist.

What Should Be Covered?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act discusses the situations in which non-minor child support may be awarded by the court during a divorce proceeding or at a later date. The court may order support for an adult child who is mentally or physically disabled and will require an elevated level of care for the foreseeable future or for the educational expenses for a minor or non-minor child. While the care of a disabled child is a fairly straightforward endeavor, the question of what constitutes “educational expenses” and who should pay them can get quite complex.

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Naperville family law attorneyAmerica has long been known as a land of opportunity. Every person, regardless of their birth status or socioeconomic class, has avenues available through which great personal and financial success may be realized. For many, these opportunities begin with an education, first in elementary and high school, then in college, graduate school and beyond. Over the last several decades, however, the costs associated with a post-high school education have continued to rise, which has created serious difficulties for many would-be students. Some, as you might expect, turn to their parents for help, but many parents are unable or unwilling to provide financial assistance. When parents say no, however, does the child have the right to try to force the issue?

Confusion Regarding Divorced Parents

You may have seen or read information about an Illinois law that can require divorced parents to contribute toward their child’s college education. The law does, in fact, exist. It is a provision of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that addresses support for a non-minor child for educational expenses. The statute allows the court to order one or both divorced parents to assist with specific costs related to the child’s post-high school education.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_college-savings-divorce.jpgWith college tuition rates consistently rising in the United States, many parents are deciding to start saving for college earlier. Ideally, parents should begin saving as soon as the child is born. Even if the monthly contribution is small, starting early can give parents the extra boost they need to keep up with ever rising college costs. It is a smart move and your child will appreciate it down the road. In the case of a divorce, the college savings becomes uncertain. Co-saving, like co-parenting, is possible post divorce, but there are a few things you need to know to save successfully.

College Savings Accounts

When setting out to save for a child’s future college tuition, many families invest in some sort of 529 college savings plan. These are tax-advantaged investment accounts, and help many parents save more money faster. Often, parents open these accounts jointly. In the unfortunate case of a divorce, parents must explore their options for future account ownership. Typically, one parent will need to be designated as the sole owner of the account. There are however, other options, such as freezing the account, or splitting the savings into two accounts.

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college expenses, divorced parents, Napervile child support lawyerFunding a college education for one child or several is a challenging endeavor for most families. Regardless of whether the parents of the children wishing to attend college are married or divorced, the current costs of higher education in the U.S. are daunting to say the least. However, for families that are being managed by divorced co-parents, the finances and logistics of paying for college or university often have an extra level of difficulty. This is particularly true if the divorce occurred when the children were young and no advance provisions were made in the divorce settlement.

Settlement Agreements Often Fail to Include College Expense Planning

Marital settlement agreements can often fail to designate each parent’s financial responsibilities for the children’s advanced education for a variety of reasons. With so many issues to be agreed upon during the divorce process, the added stress of pre-planning a large, but unknown, future expense can be easily relegated to an issue of lesser overall importance at the time. However, if and when the children in question begin the college admissions process, many couples discover that defining their individual responsibilities regarding college tuition and expenses at the time of the divorce settlement would have been a more prudent decision.

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