Does Your Child Have a Right to Ask for Help With College Expenses?

Posted on in Child Custody and Support

Kane County family law attorneyAs the high school graduation season draws to a close, prospective college freshmen are looking ahead toward the beginning of a new adventure. Over the past several decades, however, rising tuition costs and tighter household budgets have made paying for post-high school education more difficult than ever. More and more students are turning to their parents for help with college expenses, though many couples lack the financial ability to assist their children. Some can afford to help, but make the decision not to do so. When this happens, does a college-bound student have any recourse under the law?

Non-Minor Support for College Expenses

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) does contain a provision that could allow the court to require divorced parents to contribute toward their child’s college expenses, even after the child has reached adulthood. The existence of such a law seems to create a double standard: a child whose parents are divorced can get help, but a child whose parents are still together cannot. The reality, however, is not quite that simple.

Not So Fast

The IMDMA’s provisions regarding college expenses present the issue as a financial consideration of the parents that is pertinent to their divorce agreement. Divorcing parents can elect to include provisions for their children’s college costs in their divorce settlement, but are not required to do so. The law, therefore, is intended to govern how the costs are to be divided between the parents, if and when the court finds such contributions appropriate. But, there is one, extremely important point that makes all the difference: the child does not have standing to request support, even from divorced parents. One parent or the other may begin, but the child is not permitted to file for help. In essence, at least one parent must be willing to assist the child with college expenses in order for the court to even take up the case.

To answer the question simply, no, a child does not have the right to petition the court for help from his or her parents for college expenses, regardless of the parents’ marital status.

Child Support Questions?

Court-ordered contributions toward a child’s educational expenses are a form of child support under Illinois law. If you are facing any type of child support proceedings, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney for assistance. Call 630-232-9700 today and let us provide the sound legal guidance you need and deserve.



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