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Does the other parent have to pay college tuition in a divorce?

There is a lot to deal with during a divorce. You likely are experiencing emotions like sadness, anger and maybe even some relief. When you have children, you are also trying to manage all your children's feelings. You want to protect your children of course, but there are only some many things you can protect them from in a divorce. No matter what, your children will no longer have two parents that live together.On top of that, you are also dividing all your shared property which may include a house, vehicles, savings accounts and retirement funds. If your children are younger, you may not have even thought about who will pay for the children's college tuition. However, before you finalize your divorce agreement, you may want to include an agreement regarding college expenses. Here is what you need to know about Illinois law regarding this issue. 

Both parents pay if they can afford it

In 2016, changes made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act went into effect. One change allows a parent to seek a college contribution from the other parent. Paying for college is not considered mandatory. However, the court usually requires the other parent to pay if he or she can afford it. Here are the factors used to determine a parent's contribution:

  • The current and future financial resources of both parents, and their abilities to meet living needs, including saving for retirement
  • The standard of living the children had when parents were married
  • What financial resources the children have
  • How well the children do in school

Parents only pay basic expenses

The court may decide both parents must contribute to children's college expenses. However, parents are only expected to pay for certain things. This includes basic educational expenses like tuition and fees, books, housing, medical insurance, dental insurance and other supplies. If children decide to live at home, parents are still expected to cover food, transportation and utilities.

U of I is considered the standard

When considering tuition and housing expenses, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is used as the standard. Parents will not need to pay more than it would cost an in-state student to attend and live in the dorm at the University of Illinois.

Children must maintain good grades

To keep receiving support from parents, children must maintain a C grade average. College payments do not go on indefinitely. Payments end on a child's 23rd birthday, or if a child graduates or gets married. If a child is ill or starts school late due to military service, college support may be extended until he or she is 25 years old.You may feel overwhelmed by everything going on in a divorce, but including an agreement about college expenses helps protect your children's futures. It also prevents the financial burden from falling only on your shoulders. 

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