During the marriage, parents have no legal obligation to contribute towards the college expenses of their children. However, after filing a petition for dissolution of marriage, 750 ILCS 5/513 requires both parents to contribute to their child’s college costs to the best of their ability, while considering the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved, the financial resources of the child, and the child’s academic performance.
It is often difficult to determine each parent’s ability to contribute to college costs. An attorney will assist his or her client in reviewing the other party’s financial information and evaluating the expected cost of college attendance, including all associated fees and costs, less scholarships and grants.
Where each parent’s contribution to college expenses has been reserved, and if the parents cannot agree on their respective contributions, it is necessary to bring the matter before the court prior to incurring any college expenses. In doing so, each parent is aware of his or her obligation prior to making any expenditures.