Educational Expenses Begin Before Enrollment in College

Throughout the current presidential election campaign, at least one candidate has prominently discussed making a government-funded college education available to each and every citizen in the country. While the importance of a solid education cannot be overstated, the continually rising costs of college are of tremendous concern to most American families. Whether or not the next president will actually be able to bring such a plan to fruition, in the meantime, parents often struggle with how to help their children cover necessary educational expenses. The problem can be even more pronounced for divorced parents, as the intentions of each party are frequently at odds with one another.

Court Authority

You may already be aware that Illinois courts have the authority to order either or both parents in a post-divorce situation to contribute toward the educational expenses of their child. While not guaranteed—and not considered a right or entitlement of the child—such an order can be made even if the child is no longer a minor. Put simply, if one parent is helping the child pay for college, he or she can ask the court to require the other parent to assist as well.

Of course, the law applies to what most people would commonly associate with educational expenses. One or both parents can be ordered to help pay for tuition, fees, books, room and board, and medical care costs. The child, though, only incurs these types of expenses once he or she has enrolled in a particular school. The process of applying and preparing for registration also costs money, and the court may order parents to contribute to those expenses as well.

Applications and Exams

For many individuals entering college, there are many sources of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs. A large number of students even find jobs to help ease the financial burden. These resources, however, are not usually available to a high school junior or senior who is in the process of making a decision about where to attend college. Therefore, regardless of the court’s intent to order contributions toward tuition or room and board, a separate order can be entered requiring either or both parents to provide funds for the application process.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifies that parents can be ordered to cover the cost of up five college application fees and two standardized college entrance exams, such as the SAT or ACT. Additionally, the court may also order the parents to provide money for one entrance exam prep course.

Let Us Help

If you are the divorced parent of a child who is heading off to college soon, and you would the other parent’s assistance with your child’s educational expenses, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. At Kezy & Associates, we understand the law and we will work hard to help you protect your rights and provide for your family. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule your free initial consultation today.