Some parents believe that their duty to support their child ends once the child turns eighteen. This is not always the case in Illinois. Illinois family law provides that parents with children may be ordered to contribute to college or professional school training costs. These costs can include room, board, dues, tuition, transportation, books, fees, registration and application costs, medical expenses, medical insurance, dental expenses, and living expenses. This is an important aspect of the law that divorcing parents should study or discuss with their respective attorneys, even if their children are very young. It is common knowledge that the costs for education beyond high school can be extremely expensive. While we are not bankruptcy attorneys, every parent and child considering taking out student loans should know that if someone takes out student loans, he or she might not be able to discharge that student loan debt in bankruptcy proceedings.
Illinois law states that parents who are ordered to contribute to a child’s education costs must be informed of the educational institution the child will be attending, though some exceptions exist. Parents who contribute to college costs are allowed access to the child’s grade reports, records, and transcripts. The court cannot order a parent to contribute to their child’s education expenses after the child receives a baccalaureate degree, so a parent probably does not need to worry about the court ordering him or her to pay for an eight-year long graduate school program.
The court considers several factors before ordering parents to contribute to a child’s educational expenses. These factors include:
(1) Both parents’ financial resources;
(2) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
(3) The child’s financial resources;
(4) The child’s academic performance; and
(5) any other relevant factors that appear reasonable and necessary.