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Who pays for college after an Illinois divorce?

College expenses are not solely limited to tuition and fees, either; parents may be ordered to help a child cover the full range of expenses.
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    February 05, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Who pays for college after an Illinois divorce?

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By now, it is not necessary to have a child or be a college student yourself to know that college costs have risen dramatically; for the last several years, the increases in public and private tuition alike have made headlines. This rise is cause for concern for any parents, but for parents in Cook County who are preparing to divorce, rising college costs pose a unique question: who is responsible for paying those costs? It is important for Illinois parents to be aware of their obligations and understand their rights on this front, since the amount of money involved can be significant.

Support for non-minor children and education

In Illinois, special provisions are made for the support of children over age 18 if they are disabled or accruing educational expenses. According to the Illinois General Assembly website, educational expenses may include the costs of high school, college or other professional training. College expenses are not solely limited to tuition and fees, either; parents may be ordered to help a child cover the full range of expenses, including:
-Room and board.
-Fees and medical expenses.
-Books and school supplies.
-Other costs of living.

When ordering the payment of these costs, the court weighs factors like the income of each parent, the child's academic performance and the quality of life that the child would have enjoyed if the parents had not separated.

Although college expense issues can be settled in court as they arise, it can be beneficial for parents to come to terms on handling these costs beforehand, either through a prenuptial agreement or during their divorce settlement. The benefits of reaching an agreement in advance are illustrated by an unusual case that was settled a few years ago.

Tuition battle goes to court

According to California's 23 ABC News, in 2012, a college student was awarded money after suing her father for failing to pay her college tuition. The girl's parents had divorced, and she was concerned about whether her father would continue to support her in college, so she had him sign a contract. The contract stipulated that he would continue paying her tuition, on the condition that she applied for scholarships and financial aid.

The father stopped paying tuition during his daughter's last year of college. She filed suit, and he counter-sued her on the grounds that she had violated the contract by failing to apply for financial aid and scholarships. A judge ultimately ruled in the daughter's favor and awarded the tuition costs owed.

This story shows why it is beneficial for families to work out arrangements regarding college expenses sooner than later. Although the issue was eventually resolved, it no doubt cost everyone involved more time and money than they would have invested in working out a better arrangement during the initial divorce proceedings.

If you have children and are preparing for a divorce in Illinois, don't overlook the issue of support for your children when they reach adulthood and are pursuing their educations. Make sure to speak with an attorney about finding an arrangement that will take care of your children both when they are young and when they are preparing for college.

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