Child Support Lawyers for Educational Matters in Illinois
A child legally becomes an adult at 18, but that landmark does not mean that they are physically, or fiscally, mature. Many college students may struggle to pay living and/or educational expenses. In light of this fact, most Illinois divorce decrees contain a reserve clause regarding payment of college expenses. As the children grow and move closer to college age, a court may step in and order the parents to each pay a share of their expenses.
The professionals at Glasgow & Olsson quickly evaluate the legal and financial landscape. We can help design a plan that is fair to all three parties--husband, wife, and child--so that the divorce is not an unfair financial burden on any one of them.
Factors to Consider in Allocating College Expenses
If a husband and wife divorce and their children are not yet close to their college years, it may be almost impossible to allocate college expenses between the spouses, because any cost estimate would be, at best, an educated guess. When the time comes to think about higher education, usually when children are in their freshman or sophomore year of high school, the timing is right to estimate and apportion educational expenses. According to Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act, the court looks to five factors:
- Financial resources of both parents;
- The child's financial resources;
- Child's academic performance;
- The standard of living the child would have had, if the marriage was not dissolved; and
- Any other "relevant factors that appear reasonable and necessary."
"Educational expenses" are broadly defined to include room and board, tuition and fees, books, medical expenses and living expenses for the entire period the child is enrolled in any postsecondary curriculum, be it a college or technical school.
Interpretation of the Law
One of the leading cases on the subject is In Re Marriage of Peterson, which sharply limited the reserve clause. The Petersens divorced in 1999 and, due to the children's young age, the court reserved the question of educational expenses. In 2007, Ms. Petersen asked the court to order her ex-husband to pay all prior and future educational costs of all three children. The trial court split the amount 75/25 in favor of Ms. Petersen.
A unanimous Illinois Supreme Court ultimately reversed that decision. The justices held that Ms. Petersen was not eligible to be reimbursed for any expenses that predated her motion because the judge only had the authority to divided future educational expenses.
If you were previously divorced and your family has made any decisions concerning post-secondary education, contact an attorney right away to divide future costs. If you wait too long, you may be ineligible for reimbursement.
College students need the emotional and financial support of both parents. Contact our attorneys today at (847) 577-8700 for your consultation. The law firm of Glasgow & Olsson serves families throughout Cook County, Kane County, DuPage County, and the surrounding communities.