College Expenses for Divorced Parents

In Illinois, new laws may have an impact on your children’s college expenses. In 2016, changes were made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that affect college expenses for all non-minor children of divorced parents.

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, child support terminates when a child graduates from high school or reaches age 18, whichever comes later. When a child turns 19, child support terminates even if he/she is still attending high school. According to Illinois laws, courts have the power to allocate college expenses for children of divorced parents. Such expenses include school fees and tuition, housing costs, meal plans, books and supplies, and medical and dental costs, including insurance fees. Courts can also allocate expenses incurred during college breaks. If a child resides at home with a parent while going to college, courts will take living expenses into account and allocate them between both parents. Revisions made in 2016 make significant changes to previous laws. Courts look at financial obligations for both parents and the child who is attending college. Recent revisions include:

* Parental financial obligations for college expenses terminate at age 23, unless good cause can be shown for continuing support. If additional financial support is awarded, it will automatically terminate at age 25, regardless of educational needs and circumstances.

* Financial obligations for college expenses now include the costs for up to five college applications, one college prep course, and up to two standardized college entrance exams. These expenses are in addition to previous obligations for college expenses.

* New revisions require the child attending college to sign consent papers that give parents the rights to review school transcripts and academic records at any time. If the child refuses to sign, parental financial obligations for college expenses may be modified or terminated by the court. The child is required to maintain at least a “C or higher” cumulative grade point average.

* If a child graduates from college or marries while attending college, the court can terminate parental support for college expenses. For more information on new laws, contact an Illinois divorce attorney.

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