Divorced Parents Paying for Childs College

Payment for a child’s college expenses is typically in a Marital Settlement Agreement, however Illinois provides for it in Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and states that college expenses will be divided by the parties based on financial abilities. Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that Illinois courts have the authority to require unmarried or divorced parents to contribute towards their child’s college expenses. These expenses may include tuition, housing, textbooks, living expenses, and healthcare expenses. This college expenses law lays out who is to contribute, how much each party contributes, and for how long contribution is required. The obligation to contribute to college expenses terminates on the child’s 23rd birthday, unless there is good cause showing why support should continue, and then the termination date is set on the child’s 25th birthday.

The court will determine each parent’s contribution to college expenses by considering the present and future financial resources of both parents. This way, no parent will be ordered to contribute to their child’s college if the court finds that they are not financially able to do so. The financial resources considered extend past income and include retirement savings, the standard of living of the child had the marriage not dissolved, the financial resources of the child, and the child’s academic performance.

The Act, however, notably dictates that the tuition and fees covered by the statute cannot exceed the amount of in-state tuition, fees, and housing expenses than that for the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) in the same year as the divorce. This places limits on how much parents may be ordered to pay. For the 2021-2022 academic school year, the estimated in-state cost for UIUC, including tuition, living expenses, and textbooks ranged from $33,060 to $40,044.

You might consider a consultation with THE LAW OFFICES OF VAN A. SCHWAB at our Skokie or Libertyville offices for any questions or concerns regarding your child’s college tuition payment requirements at (847) 851-4373.

The statute requiring divorced parents to pay for their child’s college expenses has been criticized for treating divorced families differently than non-divorced families. However, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Kujawinski v. Kujawinski, 71 Ill. 2d 563, 376 N.E.2d 1382 (1978), that the college expenses payment requirement was constitutional. In this case, a father in a pending divorce action claimed that Section 513 requiring parents to pay for a child’s college expenses was unconstitutional. The Court disagreed and stated that each parent must pay because children of divorced families face different hardships than other children, and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act attempts to mitigate the detrimental effects of such hardships.

Before your child plans to attend college, you should seek legal advice if you have concerns over the payment requirements in Illinois. If you have questions about the impact of the Illinois contribution to college expenses law and how it pertains to your child, please contact us at THE LAW OFFICES OF VAN A. SCHWAB. We are dedicated to helping you make the best decisions to protect you and your child’s interest. Contact us at our Skokie, Libertyville, or Chicago offices to learn more about Illinois’ college expenses law and the payment for your child’s college education. Reach us at (847) 851-4373 (Skokie office), (312) 372-4569 (Chicago office) or