Contribution to College Expenses

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.

How Much Are Contributions to College Costs?

It’s often difficult to determine each parent’s ability to contribute to college costs. One of our attorneys will assist with 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. Typically, college expenses are negotiated as a separate issue from child support while the child is a minor. Parents can discuss college planning during or after divorce proceedings, however.

College Planning Options for Divorcing Parents

If you and your spouse are divorced, college expenses can generally be handled in one of three ways:

  • The divorcing parents can create a college savings fund for the child during the original divorce proceedings. College savings funds can help reduce conflict over contributions as the child gets older, as well as provide tax breaks wherever applicable.
  • If a college savings fund wasn’t created during the initial divorce proceedings, the divorced parents will need to discuss how they’ll share expenses once the child is ready to start college.
  • In cases where negotiations aren’t successful, the Illinois family law courts will step in and decide how much each parent will contribute depending on their financial circumstances. Unlike child support, the judge will take into account any income from the spouses’ second marriages as well.

Negotiate College Expenses with Our Expert Help

Again, if the parents can’t agree on their respective contributions, it’s necessary to bring the matter before the court prior to incurring any college expenses. Our team of lawyers can help minimize any unnecessary conflict involved in planning college expenses. Through calm and level-headed negotiation, we can assist in making the situation less arduous for parents and children alike. Contact us for a consultation at our Chicago or Oak Park office to begin the process.

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