Many divorced couples in Illinois assume that their financial issues are settled upon the finalization of the divorce decree. However, when children are involved, there are often unresolved complications that may arise over the years that must be addressed. In some cases, child support may need to continue on well past a child’s 18th birthday, especially when it comes to paying for college expenses.
The courts do not always make determinations regarding this matter at the time of the divorce settlement since it is usually not possible to forecast how the financial circumstances of each parent will look when children are old enough to attend college. This often leaves the ruling to a later date and sometimes requires one spouse to seek a petition for contribution to help foot the often times staggering bill that accompanies a secondary education.
The state of Illinois refers to the financial responsibility of parents to contribute to their child’s academic expenses beyond high school as “non-minor support.” State statute does not make non-minor support a mandatory requirement, however judges are becoming increasingly likely to order parents to assist in paying for many expenses, including tuition, room and board, books, fees, health insurance, and any other expenses that the courts deem necessary.
Determining the need for contribution
In today’s economy, obtaining employment can be difficult without a college education, but paying for that education can be equally difficult. According to a recent survey by the College Board, the average budget for a public in-state college is $22,836 per academic year. Providing financial assistance to a child on one income can be difficult, leading many divorced parents to request a contribution petition from the other spouse. The courts consider several factors when determining whether non-minor support is necessary, including the following:
- Both parents’ financial resources
- The child’s financial resources
- The child’s standard of living had the marriage not ended in divorce
- The child’s academic capabilities and performance
The importance of filing early
In Illinois, a petition for contribution cannot grant retroactive repayment. If one parent wants to ensure that the other shares in the responsibility of paying for a child’s college education, then he or she needs to file a petition before that child begins post high school education. The only expenses that can be repaid must be incurred following the date of filing. This is designed to prevent parents from putting off seeking financial contribution for long periods of time.
As with other financial disputes that arise following a divorce, seeking a petition for contribution can be complicated. Many parents find that working with an attorney is the best way to ensure that all bases are covered in order to protect financial stability.