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College tuition: After Illinois divorce, who pays?

Sending a child to college is important to many parents in Peoria, Illinois. Although going to college is often a decision that was decided without question, after a divorce the real question becomes: Who will pay?

In many states, the obligation for child support ends when the child reaches the age of 18 and one parent is left wondering if he or she can afford the increasing cost of tuition. Will an ex-spouse help contribute? Can the ex be forced to contribute?

Under some state law, a court has the authority to order a parent to pay for education expenses after a divorce settlement is in place, but if you are contemplating divorce or have already decided to file you do not have to leave that to chance.

An attorney can help draft terms for a settlement agreement that include college expenses for your child. While you do not have to declare the institution in an agreement, the language should be clear.

There are many ways in which payment can be structured. The terms can include percentage requirements: Parent A pays 30 percent and parent B pays 70 percent. The terms can define who pays for what part of the expenses: Parent A pays for room and board, textbooks and extracurricular activities while parent B pays tuition. The agreement can determine whether an allowance will be covered and by who. Who will pay for the child to commute if they decide to go out of state? What will the monetary limits be for each parent or both?

It is not just money that is involved either. The settlement terms can set limits or restrictions when a school has not yet been decided upon. One parent may not want to deal with cross-country commutes and insist that the child stay within x-miles of the home or only travel one state away. Public or private? Religious affiliation requirements or restrictions? No matter what you decide, it is important that it gets into the agreement.

Source: Forbes, "Who Pays for College Tuition? Top Factors for Divorcing Women to Consider," Jeff Landers, Jan. 24, 2012

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