Does your mind, now that it’s the time of year when your child is likely making decisions about college, immediately jump to money? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As parents, we want to do everything for our children, especially if it’s something that will contribute to their future. College is an investment, and you may be wondering if you can get a contribution from your ex-spouse or ex-partner for the payment of college expenses. You can in many circumstances, but there are important things to keep in mind.
Show me the money!
There are several factors that come into play when the court determines what each parent must contribute to the child’s college fund. The court will start off by looking at both of your incomes and properties. If one parent is deceased, they will look to an estate. Next, they take into account the savings, including retirement, of both parties. Then, they examine the child’s financial status, and whether or not they are able to cover their own college expenses. That includes loans, scholarships, and grants. The last thing they consider is your child’s grades. Grades matter more than you might think. The court will take into consideration the child’s academic performance to determine whether or not a party will be ordered to pay.
But not all the money…
The amount of money that the parents might be required to pay isn’t without limits. The court creates a cost maximum, taking into consideration, tuition and fees, housing based on a double occupancy room, up-front costs of medical expenses such as medical and dental insurance, and reasonable living expenses of the child during the academic year and its associated periods of recess.
The 35-year-old college student?
We all know them – the people who keep getting degree after degree. The law does not support this, at least as far as contribution from a parent goes. Your child can’t get funds for college forever, so unless otherwise agreed, there are age requirements. Typically, it must be no later than the child’s 23rd birthday, or if there is a good cause, the child’s 25th birthday. A good cause could be military deployment or medical issues. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the funds will be there when your child is simply ready for college. A typical 20-something’s inability to make decisions about their future is not considered a good cause, it is imperative
Time is of the essence!
Finally, and arguably the most important thing to remember when it comes to college contribution, is the understanding that the obligation to pay is only retroactive to the date of filing of the petition. If you file during the second semester of your child’s junior year, you will only be able to receive contribution from that date going forward. Make sure you are on top of budgeting for college expenses by hiring an attorney to start the process of contribution as soon as possible!
At Greenberg & Sinkovits, LLC, we focus largely on financial strategy. Call us today at 312-905-3013 to discuss the best strategy on your college contribution case!