Case Study: Are Illinois Orders to Pay College Expenses Still Constitutional?

In Illinois, divorced and never-married parents may have an obligation to contribute to post-high school expenses for their children once they emancipate, or “age out” of being a minor child under the law.  This typically happens when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens last. At that point, many children will go on to attend college, trade schools, and various other types of career training.  Section 513(a) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is the relevant statute on this issue, and it provides:   “The court may award sums of money out of the property and income of either or both parties or the estate of a deceased parent, as equity may require, for the educational expenses of any child of the parties.”   The law goes on to state that the judge has authority to order payment of post-high school educational expenses, including tuition and fees (as long as they do not exceed…

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