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“My child graduated from high school and is now eighteen years old.  He is on his way to college.  Now what? “

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides for support of children who have attained majority.  Section 513 provides for support in basically two circumstances.  One is for the payment of support for a mentally or physically disabled adult child.  The other provision (and more commonly applied) deals with post high school education expenses of a child.  Either or both parents may be required to contribute to college tuition, room, board, dues, books, fees, registration and application costs, transportation costs, medical and dental expenses, and even living expenses while the child is on recess from school.  Several factors are taken into account including the financial resources of both parents and the child, the child’s academic performance and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had his parents not divorced.  This provision not only applies to college, but to trade school, professional training and other post high school educational training.  The court will look at a variety of circumstances when determining each parent’s and the child’s contribution to these expenses.  These factors will include (without limitation), the income and financial resources of the parties, the assets of the parties, the income, financial resources and assets of the child, scholarships, financial aid, college trust funds, previously funded college plans (such as Bright Start), the choice of school and the course of study to be followed.  The court may look to limit each parent’s exposure if the cost of the school is expensive.

The courts will not look into contribution to college education expenses after the fact.  In other words, if the expense has already been incurred, the court will not order retroactive payments, only prospective payments.  Therefore, it is important to look into this area before the expenses are incurred.

If you or someone you know has any questions about the payment of college education expenses for the children of divorced parents in Illinois please contact the Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk at (847) 506-7330.

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