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Kane County family law attorneyChild support is intended to help parents provide for their minor children. Generally, an order for child support will terminate once the child turns 18 years old. If the child is still enrolled in high school at age 18, the child support is extended through age 19. However, there are some instances where child support orders can extend past the usual age 18 or 19 cutoff.

A child who is physically or mentally disabled may not be able to care for himself or herself and will therefore need the assistance of a parent or guardian well into adulthood. In cases such as these, courts may order one or both parents to continue to contribute to support. These support orders can last as long as the court finds necessary to secure the disabled child’s quality of life.

Not Every Disability Necessitates Ongoing Support

Kane County child support attorneysMost divorced parents think of child support ending when the child in question turns 18 years old. Usually, this is the case. However, there are several situations in which a court may order more, and one of those is when dealing with college expenses. Illinois law differs somewhat from many other states’ in that while married parents may decline to contribute to their children’s college expenses, unmarried parents may be ordered as part of a divorce agreement to contribute according to their income level.

Non-Minor Support

College expenses such as tuition, room and board, books and the like fall under a legal category Illinois calls non-minor support. It is also possible, but somewhat less common, that the court will hold some living expenses to fall into that category as well—costs such as bus or train passes and medical insurance. The key word in such determinations is “reasonable,” and the court has quite a bit of leeway in that regard.

non-minor support, educational expenses, Kane County family law attorneyIf you currently pay child support, you are probably operating under the assumption that your obligation will be complete when your child turns 18 and graduates from high school. In most cases, you would be correct. The child support laws in Illinois generally require a parent—usually the one without primary residential custody—to pay support until the child is no longer a minor and has earned a high school diploma. You may be surprised to learn, however, that your obligation may continue, depending on your family’s specific circumstances, as your child pursues an undergraduate degree. Illinois, for some time, has recognized the right of a child to seek support from either or both parents for help with educational expenses, and, earlier this year, some cleanup language was added to the law that will take effect in January.

Not Usually Part of the Divorce

Although divorcing parents may be able to reach an agreement on paying for college during the course of the marital dissolution, many do not even think of it. With so many issues of more currently-pressing importance, it is easy to understand why that may be the case. The law in Illinois, however, leaves the door open for any party—either spouse or the child—to revisit the subject later, even after the child has already turned 18 and started college.

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