college expenses and child support faq illlinois

Illinois Child Support & College Expenses

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Updated on:
July 10, 2018

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.  

‍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 own 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 align 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 in question 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.  

If the parent seeking child support is able to make a prima facie case (i.e. meet his or her burden of proof) that the educational expenses are appropriate, the burden shifts to the other party to demonstrate that he or she should not be required to pay for the educational expenses or should be required to be 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.  To learn more about how child support obligations are determined in Illinois, read our article: Changes to Illinois Child Support Laws for 2018 

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Illinois Child Support & College Expenses
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