One of many things parents in Illinois may need to determine when they get a divorce is how they will pay for their child’s college tuition. A parent who has been saving money for a child in a 529 account might want to have the account frozen when they decide to divorce to prevent the other parent making a withdrawal from it, but it may be best to consult an attorney to ensure that any action taken is legal.

Parents may want to negotiate how much each will pay toward the child’s college tuition and include this in the divorce settlement. The agreement can be modified if there is a change in circumstance over time that alters how much one or both can contribute. Parents should also decide what they will do about financial aid.

Usually, financial aid is based on the finances of the custodial parent. However, parents should have an agreement about how they will proceed if it is necessary to provide financial information for both parents. If the Free Application for Federal Student Aid must be completed while the divorce is in progress and thus the custody situation is unclear, this could be complicated, and parents may need to seek additional advice.

In general, parents are not required to pay college tuition or child support after their children turn 18. However, college costs are among several additional things that parents might want to talk about when they are divorcing. For example, they may want to discuss who will pay for certain extracurricular activities, or they might want to talk about helping the child financially in adulthood with such things as a wedding or a first home. An attorney might be able to assist parents in negotiation and put their agreement in writing using specific language.

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