The Chicago Family Law Blog

Child Support After 19: Disabled Dependants and College Kids

The obligation to pay child support typically ends when a child reaches the age of majority, or when the child graduates high school, whichever is later. The age of majority is 18 in Illinois. So, how could you end up paying thousands of dollars per year to support your 19-year-old child?

Illinois law provides two major exceptions to this rule: the disabled child and the soon-to-be highly educated child. If your son or daughter is physically or mentally disabled, and has not otherwise been emancipated by court order, an order for continued support can be made by the court. This means you could end up supporting the child indefinitely.

The other exception is for children pursuing post-high school education. Yesterday, we covered a couple of options for funding your child's education that require advance planning. If advance planning was not enough to cover your child's college expenses, or planning was not an option, note that it could cost you a lot of money today. The court can also order you to continue supporting your children until they complete a bachelor's degree.

Most post-secondary education qualifies, including trade schools, college, and other professional training. Qualifying expenses include tuition, books, fees, housing, transportation, medical expenses, and pretty much anything else a college student will spend money on. Those who are ordered to pay are also entitled to access to the student's academic records and transcripts, unless safety concerns preclude such access.

Determinative factors of how much each parent can and will pay include each party's financial resources, the standard of living of the child pre-divorce, the child's financial resources, and the child's academic performance. That means if the kid's failing, or struck it rich in a dot-com scheme, you could be off the hook.

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