In two previous posts on this blog—which can be found here and here—we talked about how Illinois law permits a court to order either or both parents to contribute toward their child’s college expenses, even if the child has already reached age 18. The child, as discussed, does not have the right to petition the court asking for such help; rather, it is considered to be a matter between the parents. The child’s actions, as more fully described below, can have a direct effect upon a parent’s ordered obligation to contribute toward college expenses and may even cause the order to be modified or terminated.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act describes eligible college expenses as those related to the post-high school education of a child who has not yet reached his or her 23rd birthday. With good cause shown, the limit may be extended to his or her 25th birthday, but never beyond that. The law also provides that parents can only be required to contribute until the child receives a bachelor’s degree. Since this type of support is not limited to children attending four-year colleges or universities, ending support for a child obtaining an associate’s degree, or completing a trade school or certificate program would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Academic and Personal Factors
A parent’s obligation can also be terminated if the child’s academic performance falters. Except for legitimate illness or other good cause shown, the student must maintain at least a cumulative “C” average. The court’s authority to order support for college expenses also ends if the child gets married before completing the program. Enlistment in military, incarceration, or becoming pregnant may complicate the situation, but are not grounds for automatic termination of the parent’s required contributions.
Rights of Each Parent
The law recognizes that a parent who is helping with college expenses should be entitled to see how his or her money is being spent. Thus, any party who has been ordered to pay must be permitted access to the child’s school transcripts, academic records, and grade reports. If the child or other parent fails to sign the appropriate consent or release forms, the court may use the failure as a basis to modify or terminate the order for payment. Each parent is also entitled to know where the child is attending school unless the court finds that such knowledge would jeopardize the child’s safety.
Qualified Legal Help
Getting the other parent to assist with paying for your child’s college expenses can be complicated. Fortunately, the team at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., is here to help. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney today by calling 630-377-7770. We will work with you every step of the way, ensuring that your child gets the education he or she needs in today’s competitive job market.