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Parents come from all walks of life, but one thing nearly all parents have in common is the question, “How will I pay for my child’s college education?” This issue is a major concern for most families, but for divorced couples it can be extremely complicated, especially for those who divorce long before their children are of college age. That is why it can be key to include a provision regarding college tuition in child custody agreements.
Deferring Payment Plans
When it comes to paying for tuition costs, most divorce settlements do not address the specific financial responsibilities and obligations of each parent. This is easily overlooked if the child(ren) are of elementary age, but quickly becomes an issue once the child(ren) reach high school. Many parents regret not having planned for college expenses during their divorce proceedings.
In the cases where a settlement has been agreed upon, each parent has certain obligations mandated and enforced by the courts. The parents will have to meet these financial requirements when the time comes. The child(ren) is usually considered a third party beneficiary allowing him or her to petition for court ordered enforcement and benefits.
Both Parents Expected to Contribute to Children’s Education Expenses
The state of Illinois requires divorced parents to contribute funds to their child(ren)’s higher education expenses. Most decrees will specifically state the amount each parent must contribute as well as specific responsibilities during the college years, but if the amount is not specified, parents seeking assistance from their former spouse must petition the courts for expense contributions.
Divorced parents of high school or college age children must file a petition to receive any sort of financial contributions from the other parent. Even if the process takes time, payments will be back-dated to the day the original petition was filed. Parents should consider filing before their child(ren) enters college in order to take full advantage of any payments. While retroactive funding is an option, filing the petition early can save time and hassle.
Early Planning Is Better for the Long Term
If you are the parent of a teen exploring his or her college options, you should begin looking into all available resources for financing. A court petition will require an in-depth analysis of each parent’s financial records as well as income verification. Parents should also inform their child(ren) that his or her contribution is expected.
It can be tempting to defer decisions about funding a child’s higher education while negotiating a divorce settlement, but that can also lead to problems in the future. Parents who are considering how to best provide for the eventuality of their children’s education in their divorce settlement should consult with a skilled Hinsdale family law attorney to understand all of their options and obligations. Contact Martoccio & Martoccio to schedule a complimentary consultation. There is no time to delay when your children’s future is involved, call 630-920-8855 today.
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