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Warrenville divorce lawyer college expenses modificationAfter a divorce is finalized, and the divorce decree is entered into court records, former spouses must abide by all terms concerning child support, spousal support, the allocation of parental responsibility, and the division of the marriage’s assets and liabilities. The decree may only be modified if a valid reason exists. These reasons may include changes in employment and/or income, parent and child relocation, a change in marital status for either party, a change in health status, and the educational needs of children.

With regard to a child’s educational needs, when a child is at or near the age of 18, one parent may petition the court for a modification to compel the other parent to help bear the cost of college expenses. The purpose of this article is to explain the basics of a divorce decree modification petition regarding a child’s college expenses.

Illinois Extends Child Support Obligations to Include College Expenses

Illinois is one of several states in which parents’ child support obligations may include post-secondary (college) educational expenses for adult children. Either parent can petition the other for financial contribution to the child’s college expenses. Ideally, the parents address the issue of post-secondary expenses during the original divorce settlement, so that each party is clear as to terms and conditions and can plan years before tuition and board fees are ever due. However, as college may seem far away at the time of divorce, it is not uncommon for the issue to go unaddressed. Later, when the issue must be confronted through a divorce modification petition, lawful “educational expenses” for which contributions may be sought by either parent include:

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Winfield child relocation lawyerRelocating to a new home for work is complex when divorced parents share custody of a child. This is because Illinois has strict regulations regarding the processes parents must follow when moving with a child. As such, the very action intended to benefit yourself and your child – a promising employment opportunity – may be complicated by the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time set forth in your court-ordered divorce decree. 

In some cases, your former spouse may be supportive of work-related relocation, even if it has support and custody-related implications. In other instances, however, the two of you may not agree about modifications to the allocation of parental responsibility when attempting to initiate child relocation. In times like these, it is essential to have experienced legal representation.

Relocation is a Question of Distance

If you were divorced in Illinois, provide your child’s primary residence, and are moving to a new residence in the state less than 25 miles from your current residence for work-related reasons, you do not have to worry about revisiting the existing allocation of parental responsibility ordered by the court in your divorce. 

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Wheaton child relocation attorneyWhen parents divorce, the chain of cause and effect extends far into the future. Where there was once a unit, with each parent a party to mutual decision-making and sacrifice for vocational and educational opportunities, there are now separate, often largely independent spheres. Where one parent occupied an at-home role, both parents may now either need or want to work. Where there was a stable support network of grandparents and other relatives, there may now be more tenuous circumstances. 

Changes such as these reflect only a few of the variables in play following divorce – changes that may require or inspire one parent to look outside of the Chicago area or the state of Illinois for employment, educational opportunities (for him or herself or their child), and family support. Importantly, however, a divorced parent cannot just uproot and leave with their child in tow. The parental responsibility arrangement entered in their divorce decree must be honored, and modifications related to child relocation must be sought and obtained using formal processes in compliance with state guidelines.

Defining Relocation Under Illinois Law

Under Illinois law, “relocation” occurs in one of the following three cases:

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