Determining Who Will be Responsible for Paying for College

Determining Who Will be Responsible for Paying for College

Illinois parents with college age kids often need to determine who will pay for their children’s college tuition. College attendance is increasingly important to today’s students. As the need for obtaining degrees increases, the issue of which parent will pay for it is increasingly being litigated in the family courts. Determining how the responsibility will be handled will depend on the answers to a number of questions, including whether the school is public or private, in-state or out-of-state and the relative incomes of both parents. A divorce lawyer may work to negotiate a child support agreement that incorporates the college attendance of the children of his or her clients in the future.

How College Is Handled

In Illinois, whether or not a judge will order a parent to help to pay for college will depend on many factors. The judge will look at whether the school is in Illinois or elsewhere. Judges are more likely to order a contribution from the parent if the school is public and located in the state than if it is private and located elsewhere. The reason for why the child has chosen a particular school may also be important. For instance, if a child wants to attend an engineering school because he or she wants to become an engineer, that may be deemed to be a better choice than choosing a cheaper liberal arts college that is located close by. However, if there isn’t a good reason for a child’s choosing a school that is expensive, the judge might not order that the other parent pays for the child to attend there.

The financial circumstances and resources of both parents are also important. A court is unlikely to order a parent to pay for a child’s college if the parent does not have sufficient means. The court is likely to also consider any amounts that the child might contribute to paying for his or her own education through work and savings.

An order to pay for a child to attend college is not automatic. A divorce lawyer may sometimes negotiate an agreement for both parents to contribute towards their child’s education in amounts that are proportionate to their individual abilities to pay. If an agreement is unreachable, the attorney might litigate the issue through a trial in court.

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