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paying for college tuition, DuPage County family law lawyersIf you are a divorced parent in Illinois, and your child is nearing adulthood, you may be wondering what your financial obligations will be after he or she turns 18. Under Illinois law, if you are currently ordered to pay child support, you may  also be responsible for covering a portion of your child’s educational expenses. Educational expenses can include post-high school costs, during the period before your child obtains his or her bachelor’s degree.

More often than not, judges entering divorce judgements for couples reserve the decision of college expenses, postponing it until the children grow older. This is because circumstances can change significantly during the time that passes until the children are ready to graduate from high school.

If that time has come, and you need to pin down how much each parent will contribute to the children’s higher education, you may need to return to court with your ex-spouse. First, you will need to file a petition seeking these expenses from your ex in an Illinois court. Until you file this petition, you will not be able to get reimbursed for any educational bills, so the earlier you begin the process, the more likely it is that your ex-spouse will contribute his or her fair share. There are exceptions to this general rule, and if you have incurred expenses already it is certainly worth consulting with an experienced family lawyer to see if an exception may apply to your circumstances.

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college contributionTraditional child support lasts until the child becomes 18 or is otherwise emancipated. In Illinois, however, child support technically continues in many cases in the form of college contribution. Although college contribution isn’t mandatory like traditional child support payments, it is frequently awarded in Illinois divorce cases and is something every divorcee with kids reaching the age of 18 should understand.

Applicable Law

Judges in Illinois are allowed to award support for educational expenses of non-minors, which may include the costs of college, costs of other professional or technical schools, or for children 19 or older that are still in high school. Although the decision to award this support is discretionary, judges are guided by four major factors in the decision making process. As designated in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), those four factors are:

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