A college graduation hat and piles of dollars

Typically child support ends when a child turns 18, but in cases where a child decides to attend post-high school education in some form, support payments often need to continue. Parents who have primary custody of a child who is entering the college years may need to work with a family law attorney to petition for related educational expenses, but can get support to help pay for their child’s education. Certain factors are considered by the courts when awarding this type of child support extension.

When Do Illinois Courts Extend Non-Minor Support?

In the state of Illinois, support that continues after a child turns 18 is called non-minor support. This is awarded by the courts on a case-by-case basis and requires the parents to make a formal request. Without this request, the support outlined in the parenting plan drops when the child turns 18. If the child turns 18 before finishing high school, then the support continues until the child turns 19 or graduates.

If the child will attend college after high school, then the parent can petition the courts with the help of a family law attorney for non-minor support to help cover the educational expenses of the college years. The judge can require the parent to continue child support payments until the child completes a bachelor’s degree.

Who Is Responsible for College Expenses?

Another consideration made in these cases is determining responsibility for the college expenses. When deciding who pays for college, the judge will consider the parents’ financial resources, the child’s standard of living if the family had not divorced, the child’s financial resources, and the child’s academic performance, based on the child’s best interests.

Depending on these facts, the judge may order that the parents and the child share the educational expenses. The judge may also order that one parent shoulder a bigger part of the educational expenses. Sometimes the judge will ask the child to seek scholarships and aid to help cover the costs.

The state makes no guarantee that the court will order educational expenses to be paid through non-minor child support, but it is possible. If the courts do award the extension of support, it can be used to pay tuition, fees, room and board, books, medical and dental expenses, and living expenses as long as the child is in school. A family law attorney can help parents understand all of the educational expenses that qualify for this extension.