If paying your child support often leaves you financially strapped, you may be looking forward to your child’s graduation from high school and the end of your responsibilities — except it isn’t that simple.
Illinois law changed in 2016, with the updates making it clear that divorced parents are equally responsible for contributing to their child’s post-secondary educational expenses. Under Section 513(b), divorced parents must now assist their college-age children with:
- The cost of one college entrance exam preparation course (such as the kind used to help prepare for the SAT or ACT exams)
- The fees for up to five college applications
- The cost of two standardized college entrance exams
- College tuition and fees (up to the amount that would be paid by a student attending the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for the same school year, regardless of what school the student attends)
- The child’s housing expenses (on-campus or off) up to the value of what they would pay for a double-occupancy dorm room and standard meal plan at the above-mentioned university
- The child’s medical expenses and insurance while they are in college
- The cost of the child’s living expenses when they are at home with a parent during off-periods in the school year
As a parent, the law does grant you some rights. Your child has to give you consent to look in to their education records, and you have the right to withdraw your financial support if your child’s grades fall below a “C” average (except when there’s good cause, like illness). Your financial obligation will also end once your child reaches 23 years of age.
If you believe that your child support obligation is unreasonable, it may be time to review the terms of your court order. An experienced attorney may be able to offer some guidance.