When you sign a divorce agreement, you are determining now how future child-related expenses will be allocated between the parents. One large future expense that can be an issue in divorce proceedings is college tuition. Divorced parents may be required to pay for college tuition, even if that child does not live at home and even if the parent does not agree that the child should attend college. This may seem unfair, but you should account for this during the divorce negotiations in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Illinois Law on Educational Expenses
If you do not agree to pay your share of college expenses (or professional education) now, the court may consider it as a factor in the equitable distribution of the marital property. Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court may award money from the assets or income of a parent to pay for educational expenses for the child through the age of 23 (and, in some unusual cases, through age 25). This would obviously include college tuition expenses.
However, it is not easy for parents of even high-school aged children to anticipate the future cost of their child’s education or even whether the child will eventually attend college at all. Parents can include a clause in their divorce decree concerning how a child’s educational expenses will be handled, but they may later petition the court to modify it if either parent’s financial circumstances have changed.
Your Obligation Is Not Unlimited
You do not need to worry about being ordered to pay for an expensive private school education. Under Illinois law, your obligation is determined based on the cost of in-state tuition and fees paid by a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. You may also need to pay for textbooks and reasonable living expenses. However, the court may not order you to pay for education when you cannot afford it. The court always considers the present and future financial resources of both parties to meet their own needs, including what you may have saved for retirement.
Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney Today
It is vital that you plan now for the future and consider factors that you may have overlooked when making a divorce agreement. The Wheaton family law attorneys at Andrew Cores Family Law Group can review your situation and point out what you need to address now. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 630-871-1002.