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Who is Responsible for College Tuition in Divorce?

The cost of college continues to rise in Illinois and throughout the United States. Business Insider reports that the average annual in-state public university tuition cost is nearly $15,000. Private university tuition cost now averages nearly $38,000 per year. Of course, there are other expenses, as well. Students need to cover their room and board. 

This raises an important question: Which parent is responsible for college tuition after a divorce? The answer depends on many different factors—child support generally ends when a child graduates high school, but there are exceptions. Here, our Illinois child support lawyer explains the key things to know about the financial responsibility for a kid’s college tuition after a divorce.  

Issue #1: Divorce, Property Division, and College Savings

Are you a parent going through a divorce in Northern Illinois? If so, it is imperative that you are prepared to address any college savings that you and your spouse have put away for your children. This includes both tax-advantaged college savings (529 plan) and other types of college savings. Illinois is an equitable distribution state (750 ILCS 5/503). A divorcing couple’s property is split in a “fair” manner. If you have a kid in college or a kid who will soon be in college, a property division divorce settlement should address current and future financial contributions by each party. 

Issue #2: College Tuition, Living Expenses, and Child Support

You may be wondering if a non-custodial parent can be required to contribute to a kid’s college in the form of child support. The answer depends on the circumstances. In Illinois, there is no automatic child support for a college student. In general, child support ends on a child’s 18th birthday or high school graduation—whichever comes later. 

However, a parent may be required to contribute to the “educational expenses of a non-minor child” in some situations. Under 750 ILCS 5/513, an Illinois court may require a parent to contribute to a child’s college expenses—tuition, room, board, etc—on equity grounds. Although not guaranteed in every case, child support for college expenses can be awarded when deemed appropriate. 

Get Help From a Divorce Lawyer in Northern Illinois

At the Law Office of Demetrios N. Dalmares & Associates, Ltd, our Illinois family law attorney has the skills and expertise that you can trust. If you have any questions about divorce and your kid’s college, we can help. Give us a call now or connect with us online for your free, confidential initial consultation. With an office in Orland Park, we provide family law representation throughout the region, including in Cook County, Will County, Lake County, and Kendall County. 

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