Family Case Law Update – College Expenses

Posted by Erin Birt | Sep 30, 2011 | 0 Comments

Contribution to college expenses of children can be determined before a divorce is finalized or, in certain circumstances, after a divorce is finalized.  A new case highlights some ‘timing' and ‘wording' issues for parties and family law attorneys dealing with college expenses. This post will focus on Family Case Law Update College Expenses.

Family Case Law Update College Expenses

In re the Marriage of Chee (2011) states that a court can determine contributions to children's college expenses, before a divorce is finalized, for children that have graduated college.  This might strike some people as odd.  The children are adults and have graduated college; why would a court spend time on this?  A court can spend time on this because a final order (a judgment) has not yet been entered and the applicable statute does not limit the timing for requests for contributions to college expenses.  Therefore, in pre-decree divorce cases, a party can file a petition for contribution to past college expenses for a child that has graduated college.

Since the statute does not limit the timing, the limitation of the timing for such requests typically appear in final orders (or judgments) prepared by the parties or attorneys.

This is one reason why it is important that the wording of orders, settlement agreements and/or judgments re: college expenses must be carefully drafted.  The type of language used will determine what recourse a party has for past or future college expenses.  One must scrutinize boilerplate language about college expenses and “Section 513” language to determine if it properly represents the ruling and/or agreement of the parties.

Chee highlights for attorneys and parties that absent final orders that state otherwise,  a court can determine the contribution to the expenses for a college graduate.  It would be improper to assume a child that has graduated college is a non-issue.

Contact us today to protect yourself with the Family Case Law Update College Expenses. It is an expensive mistake to ignore the Illinois Divorce courts ability to govern your child's college expenses.  Our team stays up to date on Family Case Law Update – College Expenses.

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About the Author

Erin Birt

Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on parenting time, divorce, mediation, and substance abuse issues. Ms. Birt's unique background in both family law and addictions counseling help her clients successfully navigate the complex issues of coparenting and divorce. Ms. Birt also devotes her time to presenting at continuing education seminars for attorneys, mediators, and counselors.


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