Divorcing With Children: Future College Expenses

The children may be young now, yet all too soon they will be achieving high school graduation and looking at different colleges and universities to attend. In many situations, if biological parents are financially able to pay for the costs of their children’s college education, they have the responsibility to do so. The same is true regardless if the biological parents are married, divorced, or legally separated, leaving us with the question, how does divorce affect the expenses of a college or university?

Play By The New Rules

As of January 1, 2016, a revision to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) went into effect. The law goes into detail about the higher education needs of children. Before the new revisions, there were no explicit legal requirements to obtain financial aid, pay for college entrance fees or even a limit to the expenses of the costs. Under the new law, the following guidelines must be followed:

  • Costs may be incurred up to the child’s 23rd birthday unless there are extenuating circumstances, in which it may be up to the child’s 25th birthday;
  • Both parental parties may be required to help complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or apply for other financial aid;
  • Both parents may be responsible for footing the bill for up to five college applications, two entrance exams, as well as the cost for one college entrance exam preparatory course; and
  • These requirements may occur either after the child has completed high school or even during high school, even if the child has not graduated by the age of 19.

The Responsibilities of the Parents

It is important to understand all of the costs included in the laws. A broad spectrum interpretation of the expenses covered breaks down simply as anything that is related to the costs of attending and obtaining higher education.  As a divorced parent, you may be responsible for:

  • Post-secondary tuition costs and fees;
  • Housing expenses;
  • Medical and dental expenses;
  • Reasonable living expenses; and
  • The costs of books and other necessary school supplies.

The Responsibilities of the Student

Gone are the easy days for the student of having essentially everything paid for while they get to broaden their social life instead of focusing on school. Except in the case of illness, the student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of a “C.” If the child fails to maintain such an average, then the court no longer can require payment by the parents. Other circumstances that also terminate parental responsibility are if the child:

  • Turns 23 years of age;
  • Earns a baccalaureate degree; or
  • Gets married.

If you are divorced and are facing children going to college, you may be wondering how you are financially responsible. An experienced attorney can assist you with the legal understanding of requirements from you, your ex, and your student. To discuss your case with an experienced Orland Park family law attorney, call 708-518-8200 to schedule your free initial consultation at Kezy & Associates.