College Expenses Post-Divorce

It surprises many parents to learn that, as long as you stay out of the courts, there is no law requiring parents to fund their child's college education. However, once parents enlist the assistance of the courts in either a dissolution case or a paternity case, the court in some states is then granted the authority to order one or both parents to assist in the payment of a child's college education. The laws vary from state to state as to what a court may order a parent to pay toward college education.  For example, in Georgia, no court can order any obligation for any type of support (college or otherwise) after the child reaches the age of 18 years of age, but, in Illinois, the court has discretion to order parents to pay for college education and support the child while obtaining said education.  Things become rather sticky when parents are divorced in one state and then move to another. Recently, the Appellate Court of Illinois was faced with a scenario in which the parents divorced in Georgia and then relocated to Illinois after the dissolution.  The Illinois trial court applied Illinois law and ordered the parents to pay for the child's college education, but the Appellate Court of Illinois reversed the Illinois trial court - finding that the laws of the state in which the original dissolution occurred must control the issue of support for college education pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. In short, if you live in Indiana or Illinois and have a child from a broken relationship, be aware that the courts can be involved in your finances long after your child turns 18. In re the Marriage of Jones, 2016 IL App (3d) 150237.