Despite being a topic of debate and discussion for years now, college tuition has yet to become any more reasonable. In fact, it now costs twice as much to attend college today than it did 20 years ago. This issue is an especially serious one in Illinois, where enrollment is dropping and pensions to staff and faculty are coming due.
What exactly does this information mean for you and your child support decree? Well, it means that you could end up paying at least a part of your child’s college expenses. Many divorce decrees in Illinois make use of something known as a reserve clause that states that each parent in question agrees to pay some money towards the child’s post-secondary education. If the custodial parent makes the decision to file a petition before the child turns 18 to have the noncustodial parent help pay for education expenses, chances are good that a judge will enforce the aforementioned reserve clause.
In the state of Illinois, the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states in Section 513 that a judge has the ability to order the noncustodial parent to pay additional support to help cover college expenses. This includes money to help cover college tuition, various college fees, food and housing, transportation, and living expenses incurred while the child is on leave during summer and spring breaks.
With the above said, it is important to note that there is a limit to what someone can reasonably be expected to pay. Expecting parents to cover the cost of a private apartment, for example, is unreasonable. Instead, their obligation to pay housing expenses ends at the cost of a dorm room with at least one roommate and a full-time meal plan at the University of Illinois. The same can be said of things like transportation fees, which do not include a requirement to splurge for first class plane tickets or a car when a bus ticket would work just as well depending upon the child’s situation.
Finally, parents can be required to provide their child with living expenses during semester breaks even if the child is living at home. Note that there is little guidance when it comes to whether or not the child must be working and actively contributing to these costs in order to justify ordering the parent to pay.
An Illinois judge will help calculate exactly how much money the child in question is entitled to as well as how much each parent pays. There are different factors to consider when determining the amount each parent can pay, including their respective financial resources, the child’s financial resources, and the child’s academic performance. If the child is continuously on academic probation due to failing to attend classes and there are no extenuating circumstances causing these absences, for example, then it is possible the parents of said child will either be found to have no requirement to pay or will be made to pay less.
The aforementioned factors are not exhaustive, and judges are able to consider any and all factors they believe to be relevant to their decision.
Are you facing the prospect of helping your child pay for their college education? Make sure to reach out to the experienced attorneys at Abear Law Offices at 630-904-3033 for more information!