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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we will explain under what circumstances a parent can be required by an Illinois court to pay child support for a child’s college expenses and other educational expenses after the child is no longer a minor. 

For an overview of Illinois child support law, check out our article: Illinois Child Support 2019.

Child support is generally required in Illinois for children of separated parents until the child either reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. However, Illinois courts also have the discretion to award child support after the child has reached the age of majority for multiple reasons, including providing for the adult child’s education.

The primary difference between child support for minor children and child support to provide for the education of adult children is that, while child support is automatically required for minor children, parents seeking child support for educational expenses after the child has reached the age of majority must prove to the court that the child support is appropriate. 

Illinois courts are required to consider four factors when determining whether to order child support for educational expenses after high school:

  1. The financial situation of each parent;
  2. The standard of living that the child would have enjoyed had the parents remained together;
  3. The child’s financial resources; and
  4. The academic performance of the child.   

In addition to the four factors that the courts must consider, Illinois courts also tend to weigh the following in making their decision:

  • The cost of the school in question, as well as the academic and extracurricular programs that it offers;
  • The child’s goals and how the school in question aligns with such goals;
  • Whether there are public schools available that are similar in quality;

As stated above, unlike child support for minor children, the burden of proof is on the parent seeking the child support to demonstrate to the court that the other parent’s payment of child support for the educational expenses is appropriate. The parent seeking child support must demonstrate the cost of the educational expenses in question, that such education will be appropriate and beneficial to the child, and that the other parent should contribute to such cost. 

Suppose the parent seeking child support can make a prima facie case (i.e., meet their burden of proof) that the educational expenses are appropriate, the burden shifts to the other party to demonstrate that they should not be required to pay for the educational expenses or should be required to pay less than the amount requested. If the educational expenses are deemed appropriate, the amount each parent will be required to contribute will be based on the relative income of the parents.

Our Illinois family law teams are happy to assist you with any family law issues you may be experiencing, including divorce, child custody, child support, visitation.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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