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A Twist in Child Support: When You Are Ordered to Pay for Your Child’s College Expenses

 Posted on December 01, 2015 in Divorce

Years ago, you and your spouse divorced. At the time of the divorce, you were ordered by the court to make a modest monthly child support payment to help to pay for your child’s clothing, food, housing, and extracurricular activities, to which you happily agreed. Now, your child is about to graduate from high school, and has hopes of attending college (which you could not be more thrilled about). But while you may think that the approaching date of your child’s 18th birthday may also be the day when your child support payments are terminated, think again; you may be ordered to pay for your child’s college expenses.

End of Child Support Duties

In the vast majority of cases, a child support duty ends when the child turns the age of 18, or is emancipated by the court at an earlier date. The latter can occur in the event that the child gets married, joins the military, or no longer requires parental support for another reason. In some cases, a child support order may extend beyond the age of 18, such as situations in which the child:

  • Is age 18, but is still in high school;
  • Is mentally or physically disabled; or
  • Has higher education expenses.

If the child has higher education expenses, then you may be ordered by a court to assist the child with these expenses.

Does This Mean that I Can Be Ordered to Pay for My Kid’s College Costs?

In a way, yes – a judge may order a child support order to continue past the age of 18 in the event that the child has expenses related to education. These expenses include, but are not limited to, the costs of books, education tuition, application fees, room and board, and any other living expenses during the school year. The court officially calls these expenses “Educational Expenses for a Non-minor Child.”

How Is a Support Amount Determined?

According to Illinois Compiled Statutes section 513, educational expenses for a non-minor child are determined by:

  • The present future and financial resources of both of the child’s parents;
  • The standard of living for the child had the marriage not be terminated;
  • The financial resources of the child him/herself; and
  • The academic abilities and performance of the child.

A court order mandating that a parent pay for a child’s college expenses can only last as long as the child is pursuing his or her bachelor’s degree.

How an Attorney Can Help You if You Have Questions About Child Support for College Expenses

Whether you believe that you are unjustly facing a child support order for your child’s educational expenses, or if you believe that your child’s other parent should be responsible for college costs, a child support attorney can help you to understand the law and protect your rights. Serving Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Lisle, Downers Grove, and Lisle, the experienced Illinois child support attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. are ready to meet with you today. Your first consultation with us is always free – call us now to schedule yours at 630-961-0060.

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