Tag Archives: college costs

college tuition, divorce settlement, Illinois divorce, DuPage County divorce, attorney, IllinoisFor the most part, parents are responsible for supporting a child until the point of emancipation. In general, emancipation happens at age 18 when people are considered legal adults, although cases involving disabled children will often extend support requirements beyond this age. Sometimes, support requirements for a child’s college education can be included in a divorce settlement.

Depending on the needs in your divorce case, you should consider discussing whether an educational obligation should be included in your settlement. Many parents who opt to do this sign an agreement that they will split the costs and these agreements often have stipulations, like certain grade point averages, that a child must meet in order to continue receiving the support.

Parents should be aware of the importance of wording in such contracts, as is indicated by a recent decision out of New Jersey. In that case, a father and mother had signed an agreement to split the cost of graduate education for their children. When their daughter was accepted to an expensive program at Cornell, her father denied responsibility and said he would only pay for a less expensive law school. A judge disagreed and ordered that the father was required to pay for half of her Cornell education costs.

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illinois divorce lawyer tipsFirst, if you create a college account for your grandchild and there is a later divorce, that account may be designated in the divorce judgment to be first used for payment of the child's college expenses, before the other spouse's obligation to pay college expenses kicks in. In fact, that spouse may get a free ride if there is enough in the child's account to fully pay for college.

Tip: Don't do an outright gift, if your child has divorce on the horizon, put college money for a grandchild in a trust drafted by a lawyer to give you or a successor trustee control over when and how money may be paid for educational or college expenses.

Second, if you have joint accounts with your child who later goes through divorce, it's possible that these funds may be claimed by their spouse to be marital funds to be divided in divorce. This is much more likely if your child has moved their money in or out of that account.

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illinois college expenses divorce lawyerThe short answer is yes. Illinois is in the minority of 13 states where parents can be ordered to contribute to the educational expenses of their child until the child obtains a bachelors degree. Usually, the divorced parents marital settlement provides that the parents pay some or all of the college expenses of their child.

Even if the marital settlement agreement is silent about a contribution by the parents, a divorced parent has the right to file a petition on behalf of a child asking for college contribution expenses from the other parent by statute.

By the way, such a Petition for college contribution should be filed in advance of college. The court generally cannot order college expenses for a semester of college after the child has completed that semester even if the martial settlement reserves the issue of college expenses. Best to consult a lawyer since the rules are not simple.

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