Family Law Update Part IV: S.B. 57, Child Support, College Expenses and Maintenance

In many states across the United States, including Illinois, whether or not parents are married, they are required to support the children they bring into this world. Senate Bill 57 makes child support obligations of parents more equitable. It also makes changes to the obligation of parents in regards to college expenses and maintenance.

Currently, under Illinois law, there are set guidelines the court must follow when calculating support, which will be unchanged by Senate Bill 57 when it goes into effect. Although it does not make any changes to the calculation of child support, Senate Bill 57 requires each parent to inform the court within 10 days if they obtain new employment, regardless of who is required to pay support. The new law also provides for penalties, should a parent fail to report income. Likewise, parenting time becomes a consideration in child support awards under Senate Bill 57, which does not exist under the law today.

The Changes Senate Bill 57 Makes to College Expenses and Maintenance Obligations

Senate Bill 57 does make significant changes when it comes to college expenses. First, it limits the obligation of the parents to help their child or children until they reach the age of 23, unless certain exceptions apply. Second, it also requires a child to maintain at least a grade-point average of a ‘C.’ Since the child is required to maintain a certain grade-point average, this means that the parents have a right to access the child’s academic transcripts or records. Should the child refuse to execute a consent form required to obtain such records, it could be grounds to terminate or modify the ordered payment of college expenses, depending on the circumstances.

The new law also permits the court to compel parents to assist their child or children with court application costs, including five college applications, two standardized college entrance exams, a single entrance exam prep course, and completion of the FAFSA forms for federal student aid. Additionally, it limits the amount of tuition and room-and-board the parents will be required to pay, as the most a parent will be required to pay is the maximum amount at the University of Illinois—Urbana Champaign. Also, the new law takes away the child’s ability to enforce orders about their own educational costs.

Finally, Senate Bill 57 codifies the common law maintenance payments on the date of remarriage or cohabitation. It no longer may include the date of filing of a petition to terminate maintenance. The former spouse paying maintenance is also entitled to reimbursement for all maintenance paid since the remarriage and/or cohabitation. Lastly, the law requires the spouse receiving maintenance to notify the paying spouse of her intention to marry within thirty 30 days of the marriage.

Consult an Attorney

As you can see, Senate Bill 57 is making some sweeping changes to the rights and obligations of parents and their children. If you are facing any issues with child support, educational expenses, or spousal maintenance, you should contact an experienced DuPage county family law attorney who will be able to assist you in navigating the new law and help you obtain solutions to your family law issues.