Illinois divorce law is unique in that judges can require parents to pay for their children’s college education. If you are ending your marriage and will share custody of minor children, you may want to make arrangements for these expenses in your parenting agreement.

Review the state’s provisions about funding college costs for children after a divorce.

Types of expenses

The law applies to children who have reached age 18 but attend vocational school, professional school, college or university. In addition to tuition and related fees, the judge can require you and your former spouse to pay for on-campus or off-campus housing expenses, textbooks, health care expenses, food, transportation, and living expenses.

As a benchmark for a reasonable amount of support, the court will use the average tuition, fees and expenses for the current academic year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Eligibility and limitations

The court considers these five circumstances in the college expenses determination:

  • Whether you and your former spouse can save for retirement while paying for college
  • The family’s living expenses before the divorce
  • The financial resources each of you have, including assets and payments awarded in the divorce
  • Whether your child has independent savings or resources for college, such as a fund set aside by a grandparent
  • How well your child does in school

Support for college or vocational school legally ends at age 23, but you and your child’s other parent can decide together to continue financial support until age 25. Discuss these issues as you negotiate your final divorce and parenting agreement.