Handling College Tuition After Divorce

Naperville Divorce Attorneys

Illinois is one of very few states that deals with the issue of college tuition for non-minor children after divorce. Illinois courts can require, by court order, one or both parents to contribute to financing their non-minor child’s undergraduate education. It is not a requirement that parents must pay in or contribute to these expenses for their non-minor children’s future, but it is a tool that is often incorporated in many court orders in Illinois.

What Are The Requirements?

Under Illinois law, 750 ILCS 5/513 (Educational Expenses for a Non-Minor Child), there are certain regulations for what is minimally acceptable in providing funding for non-minor children. Some of the nuances of the law include:

  • The court may require both parties to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid); and
  • The court may require either (or both) parties to pay the cost of up to five college applications, up to two standardized testing examinations, and one college entrance exam preparatory course.

This extends not just for college/vocational/professional training, but also if a child is still attending high school at age 19.

Illinois is in the minority when it comes to states that have anything this specific about non-minor payments for education after a divorce. In addition to the requirements above, educational expenses themselves may include:

  • Tuition;
  • Housing/meal plan;
  • Actual medical expenses, including insurance and dental expenses; and
  • Reasonable living expenses. The law also specifies that a financially contributing parent may have access to the child’s transcripts, and that the continued payments may terminate if the child does not keep above a “C” average.

If the court determines during the divorce proceeding that these non-minor child’s educational payments should be a part of the settlement arrangement, there are several considerations the court will look at to determine whether, how, and when payments shall be allocated. These same considerations will be made if the parties seek to modify, decrease, increase, or terminate the payments for any reason. According to 750 ILCS 5/513(b), these include “(1) the financial resources of both parents; (2) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved; (3) the financial resources of the child; and (4) the child’s academic performance.”

These factors are considered in conjunction so as to aid the court in making a determination regarding how much, if any, support should be given in the future. As with most family-related matters, these are merely guidelines. If the parties can come to an amicable arrangement on their own, the court is generally inclined to accept their suggestion. However, absent an agreement, the court may order payment at specific dates and times, and may divide up the payment between the parties based on these factors.

As with many things during divorce, it can be difficult to think as far ahead as college if you have young or infant children at the time of your divorce. However, taking the time to think about and plan for the future not only helps you methodically save and be prepared for payments later in life, but also helps the child in having one less thing for them to worry about as they reach independence and college. It can be hard to see the big picture during a divorce, but the more you plan and the more precisely you plan, the easier it will be in the future. Proper planning may also decrease the likelihood of having to return to court for modifications in the future as well.

Contact an Experienced Naperville Family Law Attorney Today

The best thing you can do to reduce stress and improve your outcome in a divorce is to consult a skilled DuPage County family law attorney in your area. At Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C., our team of knowledgeable attorneys have a wide variety of skill sets ranging from high asset divorce, divorce with children, divorce with spousal and/or child support, and property division. Contact an attorney today at 630-756-5112 to learn how we can help you get through your divorce process as effortlessly as possible, while ensuring that everything is in place so you will not need to re-visit your divorce settlement in the future. With or without a child’s future to prepare for, getting as many details worked out up front is key to a successful and timely divorce proceeding.