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Many divorces are completed without specific payment amounts referenced for college expenses. This scenario often results from the reality that when the divorce is finalized, the child may be too young to correctly project the actual college costs, therefore these expenses are commonly “reserved” for future consideration by the court. Once the child approaches college age, the court can assist in determining the financial obligation of the parents and the child (if no agreement can be reached directly between the parents and the child). Yes, the child does bear some responsibility for their college expenses with consideration being given to scholarships, loans and previously created college savings accounts.
College preparatory classes, college applications, reasonable living expenses, housing, books, tuition and medical and dental insurance comprise most of the costs a parent may be obligated to contribute. Regardless, it is important to note that the non-custodial parent’s obligations will only be considered from the date of filing and that past college expenses will not be considered.
A court will evaluate the respective parents’ income, including retirement savings and their standard of living as well as the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved. If the child-student requires additional time to complete college, efforts must be made to allow both parents access to college transcripts, grade information and school records. Court ordered college contributions end if the child does not maintain a “C” average, turns 23, receives a bachelor’s degree or becomes married.
If your child is heading to college or currently enrolled and college related expense issues have surfaced, feel free to contact our offices in Naperville, IL (630) 357-2333 or in Chesterton, IN (219) 797-7820.