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Can Your Child Request Support for College Expenses?

 Posted on October 11, 2016 in College Expenses

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.

Is That Fair?

Because the law only permits the court to order college expense help from divorced parents, many believe that the statute does not treat parents equally. But, there is a catch that a large number of such skeptics do not realize. The measure treats college expenses, essentially, as an extension of the family’s financial situation, which is an important consideration in any divorce. It also keeps the matter entirely between the parents.

Statutory Considerations

This means that if future college expenses were never addressed in the original divorce settlement and one parent wishes to help his or child pay for school, that parent can request that the other parent provide assistance as well. The court will consider the income and resources of each parent and the lifestyle established during the marriage, as well as the student’s income, resources, and academic performance. If the court finds that it would have been reasonable to expect that the parents would have helped pay for school if they had stayed together, an award may be made.

What About the Child’s Request?

The other provision that may be surprising is that a college-bound student does not have standing to file a request for help with college expenses from his or her parents, divorced or not. Such a request may only be filed by one of the involved parents or a representative acting on his or her behalf. This idea solidifies the intent of the law to treat college expenses as a financial issue in divorce to be handled between the spouses, not between a parent and child.

If you have questions about the laws governing child support in Illinois, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation with a member of our team.


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