Education Apportionment in Illinois Domestic Relations Cases

When two parties file for a divorce in Illinois, an Illinois family court will often apportion, or divide, the marital property between the parties. Illinois courts have a duty to apportion the property, spousal maintenance, and support in a way that upholds the interests of justice. In some divorces, apportionment is relatively straightforward. However, when two spouses enter into agreements to help one another finish expensive higher-level education, the apportionment can become more complicated.

Divorcing spouses must divide up their debts as well as their assets, to include student loan debt. If you are in the process of divorce, the skilled Cook County divorce attorneys at Glasgow and Olsson can help represent your best interests. Contact their law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.

What Happens When One Spouse Financially Supported the Other Through College?

What happens when a wife agrees to work to support her husband while he finishes his degree under the condition that he will do the same for her after he secures a position in his field? If the husband files for divorce after finishing his degree without holding up his end of the bargain, does the wife have a right to compensation for the time she worked to support his educational pursuits?

In Illinois, a family court must first determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. If appropriate, the court must still determine the amount of maintenance based on the specific facts of the case. Courts determine whether spousal maintenance is necessary based on analyzing several factors outlined in Illinois’ spousal maintenance law. Courts will examine a variety of factors, including the standard of living during the marriage, each spouse's needs, the present, and the future earning capacity of each spouse. Courts also analyze any other just and equitable factors.

If the woman who supported her spouse through college can prove that she and her husband agreed, a family court may award her spousal support. Upon proving that her husband failed to hold up his end of the bargain, a court could determine that it is just and equitable to require the husband to pay spousal support to the wife until she finishes her college degree.

How do Illinois Family Courts Apportion Student Loan Debt in a Divorce?

Illinois courts typically only apportion debts that one or both spouses acquired during the marriage. If one spouse acquired student loan debt before the marriage, a judge would likely exclude that debt from the marital estate. Judges do not automatically include student loan debt acquired during the marriage into the marital estate, however. Judges analyze several factors, such as if the spouse obtained a degree, when the debt occurred in the marriage, how the money was used, and the earning power of each spouse.

When judges include student loans in the marital estate, they typically apportion the debt according to Illinois divorce laws. Illinois is an equitable distribution state that does not apportion debt equally between the spouses but based on fairness. Judges analyze several factors to determine what is fair. You should speak to a skilled divorce attorney if you are concerned about how a court will apportion your educational costs. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation.

(image courtesy of Allef Vinicius)

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