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Posted on in Divorce

West Chicago divorce lawyerFor many people, divorce is an uncomfortable topic. In the 1980s, the divorce rate was as high as 40% in the United States. Although this rate has been on the decline over the past few decades, this is small comfort to those who are going through the difficult process of ending their marriage. There are many factors that may make you want to leave your spouse, and informing your partner about the desire to get a divorce is never an easy task.

Why Do People Get Divorced?

In 2016 there were 827,261 divorces or annulments in the United States. While infidelity is a common reason couples choose to end their marriage, many people are able to repair their relationship through marriage counseling. Here are some other common reasons for divorce:

  • Getting married too young - Research shows that the best age to get married is between 28 and 32. People who get married before the age of 25 are more likely to get a divorce. 
  • Money - Financial burdens can cause stress in any relationship, especially if they occur because of one partner's lack of responsibility. 
  • Growing apart - Falling out of love with one’s partner is another common reason for divorce. People change over time, and if spouses become too out of sync, it might be time to think about ending the relationship and moving on. 
  • Substance abuse - Drug and alcohol abuse does not just have physical effects, but it can also put a major strain on a relationship. If children are involved, divorce may be the best way to protect them from the effects of substance abuse. 

Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

Whether the two of you have grown apart, or there is a bigger issue at hand, you have likely put a lot of thought into the difficult decision to get a divorce. It is important not to blindside your spouse about your choice or bring it up for the first time during a heated argument. While there is no perfect time to say “I want a divorce,” it is best to be calm, serious, and thoughtful about the topic when it is brought up. You may want to talk about why you are unhappy and why you believe divorce is the best path for you. Being respectful during the first stages of getting a divorce can go a long way when starting a new relationship as ex-partners. 

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Winfield divorce attorney parents teenagersAround one fourth of the teenagers whose parents are going through a divorce suffer through issues like depression or reckless behavior. Unlike younger children, who may become clingy during a divorce, teenagers will distance themselves and keep their emotions tight to appear mature and in control of the situation. Teenagers are old enough to understand the world, but they still require the care of a parent. During the turbulent adolescent years, divorce can be especially stressful for teenagers. 

Is My Child Stressed?

Teenagers have the language skills to discuss about how they feel, but they will rarely do so without prompting. There are short term effects from divorce that are to be expected in any child, such as sadness, guilt, and anger. However, parents should also be aware of the long-term issues that may arise. Some signs to look out for include:

  • Difficulty sleeping - Your teenager might have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep as they deal with the stress of your divorce. Since teenagers are still growing, they require more sleep than adults do--up to nine hours a day. If your teenager is not sleeping well, you may notice signs like clumsiness, irritability, and difficulty with concentration. 
  • Depression - The best thing you can do for a child with depression is to recognize the symptoms. If your child does not seem to be themselves for long periods of time, they may be depressed. A depressed teenager may withdraw from friends and family, appear hopeless, and express dark thoughts about death or harm to themselves. 
  • Bad grades - Has your A student become a C student? He or she may not be coping well with your divorce. It is challenging for children in school to adjust to lifestyle changes that require being studious in two locations. No matter what decisions are made about the allocation of parental responsibilities, it is important to maintain consistent rules about school between households. Help your child by encouraging your ex to be equally involved in his or her education.  
  • Reckless behavior - All teenagers are likely to disobey their parents to some degree, but rebelliousness can become a problem if they are putting themselves or others at risk. Behaviors to watch out for include substance abuse, careless operation of a vehicle, or unprotected sexual activities. If your child is being reckless, they may not know how to handle their emotions about the divorce, or they may be acting out for attention. 

Even though a teenager may distance themselves from you during your divorce, they still will mimic the actions and behaviors of their parents. Use this opportunity to teach your child about managing new situations and practicing self care. Be a person that your child can look up to and take an example from. This includes talking about your ex in a positive light, avoiding using your child for emotional leverage, and managing stress in a healthy way.

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Posted on in Family law

Winfield step-parent adoption attorneyAdoption, no matter how rewarding, is rarely an easy process. It is a lifetime commitment to a child that should not be taken lightly. Adopting a child of your spouse is often more straightforward than the adoption of a non-biological child, but it is still important to have confident representation. A DuPage County family law attorney can help you through the process of a step-parent adoption and ensure that your family’s rights are protected. 

Step-Child Adoption in Illinois

In Illinois, an adult who is at least 18 years old must meet the following criteria to adopt a child:

  • They must have lived in Illinois for a minimum of six months, unless they are in the armed forces. A member of the armed forces must live in Illinois for 90 days to be considered eligible to proceed with adopting a child.
  • They must have a good reputation. That is, they must have good standing in their community.
  • They must not have a legal disability. Mental or physical ailments that limit major life activities qualify as legal disabilities.

To legally adopt the child of your spouse, the parental rights of the child’s other biological parent must be terminated. A parent may voluntarily terminate their parental rights, or a court may find reason to terminate the rights of a biological parent if they are not fit to take care of the child. Some examples in which a court may decide to terminate parental rights include:

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Wheaton parental responsibility lawyerDepending on the source you look at, the percentage of marriages that end in divorce in the United States ranges from 40 to 55 percent. Divorce is not easy and can be very contentious, especially when it comes to child issues. 

Prior to 2016, Illinois still used the terms physical custody, legal custody, and visitation when dealing with divorces that involved children. After a reform was made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are two major components that you must address if you have children and are getting a divorce: parenting time and parental responsibilities. These changes were made in recognition of the way parenting actually happens in families. Rather than having one parent as the sole child rearer, the law encourages parents to share in parenting time and responsibilities. 

Legal Definitions

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are specific definitions for both parenting time and parental responsibilities:

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West Chicago adoption lawyerAccording to the United States Census Bureau, nearly 20.2 million children, or 27 percent, were being raised by a single parent in 2016. This number has skyrocketed since 1960, when the number of children raised in a single-parent household was around nine percent. While there are still stigmas surrounding children raised in a single-parent household, most people have accepted that children who are raised by one parent have households that are just as loving as households with two parents, if not more so. Pursuing adoption as a single parent can be tricky, but it is not impossible and can be achieved with proper preparation and knowledge.

Making the Decision to Adopt

Before you move forward with the adoption process, it is a good idea for a prospective adoptive parent to examine why they are pursuing adoption. Are you adopting because you are lonely or have not had luck with romantic relationships? Are you adopting because you have infertility issues or have suffered another loss? You should make sure you are adopting because you want to fulfill the needs of a child and form a life-long relationship with them, not to help yourself.

Do You Have a Support System?

Parenting is not easy, and being a single parent can be even harder, which is why it is important that you have a solid support system you can rely on when you need help. Family and friends often prove to be especially important when it comes to your support system. You should consider the following when thinking about whether you will have the support you need throughout the adoption process:

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West Chicago divorce lawyer co-parentingA divorce is the end of a marital relationship, but if you have children, your final court date is not the last you will see of your ex-spouse. When you have children with someone, it creates a bond between you that will last forever. Though you and your spouse may not live together anymore, you still have to figure out how you will share parenting responsibilities and duties. These tips can help you increase your chances of successful co-parenting after a divorce:

1. Keep Your Emotions Under Control

If you are recently divorced, it is not unusual for you to still have lingering emotions about the end of your marriage, but it is important that you put those emotions aside for the benefit of your children. Anger, resentment, and jealousy have no place when it comes to parenting your children. Keeping a level head is key to successful co-parenting.

2. Improve Communication With Your Ex-Spouse

Though it can seem impossible, making sure you have healthy communication with your spouse is crucial to co-parenting success. Treat your new relationship like a business partnership and meet consistently with your ex-spouse to discuss your children and make sure that you are both in the loop about what is going on in their lives.

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Winfield adoption lawyerAdoption is a long and complicated legal process that can test the patience and devotion of even the most dedicated of families. There are many loose ends that must be tied up before the adoption can be finalized, and one of those loose ends is gaining consent from all appropriate parties for the adoption. That means getting permission from the child’s birth parents or adoption agency and, in some circumstances, you might even need the child’s permission to adopt him or her. Getting consent from the child’s birth parents or adoption agency means that they are handing over all related rights and responsibilities concerning the child to the adoptive parents. 

Those Who Are Required to Give Consent

In Illinois, it is a requirement that the birth mother and the birth father--provided that paternity has been legally established--give their consent for the child to be adopted. In cases where the child is no longer in the care of his or her birth parents, consent must be given by:

  • The child’s legal guardian or guardian ad litem;
  • The adoption agency which has custody of the child;
  • A close relative of the child; or
  • A court which has jurisdiction over the child.

In cases that involve the adoption of a child who is at least 14 years old, the child must also give their consent to being adopted. If the child is in need of mental health treatment or has an intellectual disability, the court may waive the need for the child’s consent.

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Winfield divorce attorney litigation mediationGetting a divorce means making decisions that will affect you and your family for the rest of your lives--it is safe to say that divorce should not be taken likely. Most people think that you only have one option when it comes to getting a divorce: litigation in court. But as there is more than one way of getting married, there is more than one way of getting divorced. Another increasingly popular method of dissolving marriages is mediation. Examining the pros and cons of each form of divorce can help you decide which type of divorce would be better for you.

Litigation

Many people consider litigation to be the traditional divorce method. In a litigated divorce, both spouses are represented by their own lawyers. The lawyers are there to give their parties legal advice about certain issues and to negotiate the terms of the divorce agreement. If negotiations between the parties fail, the attorneys can represent the parties in court, asking the judge to make a final decision about any outstanding issues.

Litigated divorces can often be long and stressful, especially if they go to trial. Divorce litigation is not uncommon, especially because nearly 80 percent of divorces are sought by only one spouse while the other spouse is not in agreement. When your divorce case goes to court, it increases the amount of time it takes to reach a decision, because you are relying on the court’s availability and timeline. Litigated divorces can also become messy and combative, which can be hard on the whole family, especially the children.

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Wheaton open adoption attorneyMany people may not have heard the term “open adoption” before. The concept of an open adoption is a relatively new one--it started gaining popularity in the United States in the 1980s and 90s. Now, it is estimated that the vast majority of domestic adoptions (nearly 95 percent) involve some degree of openness. Open adoptions are gaining popularity due to the benefits they provide for birth parents and the children themselves.

What Is an Open Adoption?

In a traditional or closed adoption, the identities of the birth parents are kept confidential, and they have no contact with the adoptive family before or after the child is adopted. In these cases, the thought process tended to be that if the birth parents knew where the child was, they might attempt to take the child back at some point. However, this would be against the law, because once a child is adopted, the adoptive family is considered the child’s legal family.

In an open adoption, one or both of the birth parents are involved in the child’s life to varying degrees or have some form of contact with the adoptive family. There are no set types of open adoptions; rather, each open adoption is structured to meet the families’ needs. The adoption could be fully open, where the child, adoptive family, and birth parents have regular contact with each other and form relationships, or the adoption could be semi-open or mediated, meaning the families communicate indirectly with each other through an adoption agency.

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Winfield divorce mediation lawyerDivorce can be intimidating--there are many different types of divorce and many ways you can create a divorce settlement. It can be overwhelming to figure out which type of divorce is right for you. A traditional litigated divorce can carry a lot of stress and can take a long time; a collaborative divorce can become expensive, but fosters a healthy cooperative environment; and a mediated divorce brings its own advantages and is becoming an increasingly popular choice for divorcees. It is important to choose the right type of divorce for your family so you can get the most out of a less-than-happy experience.

If you are able and willing to cooperatively work with your spouse to come to an agreement on your outstanding divorce issues, mediation may be the best option for you. Along with the peaceful nature of the process and the lower cost than other methods, there are many advantages to a mediated divorce, including:

1. It Is Easier on Your Children

In traditional, litigated divorces, there is often a lot of stress and tension in the household during the process. Children are very receptive and can sense the conflict between their parents. Divorce mediation is, by nature, a more peaceful process, because your mediator helps facilitate cooperation and meaningful conversation between you and your spouse. This will help you build a foundation for working together to raise your children after your divorce has been finalized. 

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West Chicago divorce mediation lawyerPreparing for divorce is not easy. In some ways, preparing for divorce mediation can be even more difficult. Because of the cooperative nature of mediation, you have to put aside your differences to an extent and work together with your spouse to achieve an outcome you are both okay with. With all of the benefits of divorce mediation, you should try to prepare yourself as much as possible to facilitate a successful mediation process. Here are some ways to get ready for divorce mediation:

1. Come With Copies of Important Documents

You should come to your mediation sessions with copies of all of the important documents that you and your spouse have accumulated while you were married. These documents should include assets and liabilities such as:

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement funds
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Stocks
  • Businesses
  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Loans

2. Prepare to Negotiate Rather Than Argue

Arguing is probably one of the things that got you into the divorce process, and you should realize that it will likely not help you resolve anything. Negotiating is what divorce mediation is all about. Once you realize that the past is the past, you can focus on looking at the bigger picture and what really matters. The mediator is there to help minimize arguing and promote collaboration, but you have to do your part to be in the mindset to work together.

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West Chicago divorce attorney irreconcilable differencesDivorce is not an uncommon thing--in the United States alone, there are nearly one million divorces granted each year. Most states have adopted a no-fault divorce policy that does not require couples to divulge the reason they are getting divorced, but simply state that their marriage is beyond repair. Throughout the world, there have been tales of strange reasons why people have gotten divorced that range from slightly odd to flat out ridiculous. Here are seven strange stories of why people have filed for divorce:

  • A Japanese woman filed for divorce from her husband after she took him to see the movie “Frozen,” and he did not appreciate it like she did. The women ended her marriage of six years because of her husband’s dislike of the Disney movie.
  • A man in Dubai divorced his wife because he thought she was possessed by a genie. The wife’s family told him that she was possessed by a “djin”--which is a genie-like creature in Arabic folklore--after she refused to have sex with him.
  • A woman who resides in Kuwait divorced her new husband when she discovered that his way of eating peas was different than hers. The couple was only married for a week before she found out that he eats peas with bread instead of with a fork, which she cited as bad table manners.
  • A Chinese woman sought divorce after the family parrot began clueing her in on her husband’s affair. The parrot began saying things like “divorce,” “I love you,” and “be patient” after it overheard her husband’s phone calls to his mistress.
  • A man from Israel filed for divorce from his wife after she brought home 550 cats. The man said the cats hindered the quality of his home life, and the couple agreed that reconciliation was a good option for them, though the wife ended up choosing the cats over her husband, resulting in a divorce.
  • A lot of women try to get their husbands to clean more, but that was not the case for a German woman who divorced her husband because he cleaned entirely too much. She filed for divorce after the man tore down a wall in their house because it was too dirty.
  • A Nigerian woman divorced her husband of six years because she said he talked too much. She stated that he would often tell his friends about family matters instead of talking to her about them.

Get Representation From a Warrenville Divorce Lawyer

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the only required grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. You may decide to end your marriage for a multitude of reasons, but no matter the cause, you need an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney to help you along the way. When you decide to seek the help of the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC, you are putting your case in good hands. Contact our office at 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

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Wheaton divorce lawyer child issuesOften, when couples who are married begin thinking about a divorce, the topic of children comes up. Do you stay together for the kids, or do you divorce? Every divorce is different, and so is every child--that is why there is not really any way of knowing what exact effect a divorce will have on your child. However, many studies have shown that staying in an unhappy marriage can be more damaging to children than the effects of a divorce. Some of the effects that children may experience in this type of situation include:

1. Chronic Stress

Parents play a crucial role in a child’s development--their relationship with their parents is one of the most important parts of their upbringing. When a child is raised with parents who are constantly at odds, they internalize the conflict. This means that rather than feeling at ease and comforted when they are with both parents, they feel tension and stress. Such constant stress can also cause physical symptoms in children, such as depression or chronic fatigue.

2. Mood Problems or Behavioral Issues

Parents who are constantly fighting teach their children to forgo optimism and expect the worst at a very young age. This can cause problems in children such as dysthymia, which is a mild, but long-term form of depression. These problems can also be the root of many adult issues, like personality disorders or substance abuse.

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Posted on in Mediation

Warrenville divorce mediation lawyerStatistics can be a little fuzzy when it comes to the divorce rate. Depending on the source, the divorce rate is reported to be anywhere from 33 to 50 percent. But the one thing that professionals are noticing to have been changing about divorce in the United States is the increasing rate of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). More couples are choosing to settle their divorce through ADR methods like collaborative law and mediation, rather than the traditional litigation method. Some couples may be wary of divorce mediation, but by debunking the myths you may have heard about mediation, you can make an informed decision about whether it is right for you.

1. Mediation Will Not Work if There Is a Lot of Conflict Between Spouses

One of the most common thoughts that people have about divorce mediation is that it only works if both spouses are friendly toward each other. This is not necessarily true. While it may be easier for couples who are amicable toward each other to come to an agreement, it is not impossible for high-conflict couples to reach a settlement. Divorce mediators are trained to handle high-conflict situations, and if necessary, another professional, such as a family therapist or psychologist, can be hired to attend mediation sessions to teach couples how to communicate better.

2. Mediation Means You Will Settle for Less

If you litigate your divorce in court, the judge is required to abide by Illinois law when it comes to deciding things like property division, spousal maintenance, child support, and parental responsibilities. When you participate in divorce mediation, you and your spouse are able to consider other factors that a judge may not. The mediator serves as an uninterested third party who is there to direct your attention to the issues that need to be resolved.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerIt is no secret--divorce is not easy. It can be lengthy and costly, and it can drive your emotions through the roof. Even though divorce is stressful by nature, it does not have to mean the end of your emotional well-being. If you are beginning the divorce process, here are five ways to emotionally prepare yourself for divorce and make the most out of the next phase of your life:

1. Seek Social Support

People tend to want to isolate themselves when they go through a divorce because of the emotionally draining nature of the divorce process. However, it is important to seek the support of others during this time and avoid emotionally retreating from your friends and family. Talking with others about your situation and asking for help is a healthy way to cope with your divorce.

2. Begin Emotionally Grieving

A divorce is the end of a marriage, and some may say that it is a type of death. This means that it is only natural for you to grieve. Healthy grieving means accepting that there will be a healing process following your divorce. It is okay to be sad, but it is important for you to realize that even though the healing process is tough, peace will come if you allow it to.

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Winfield divorce name change attorneyThere are many reasons why a person would want to change their name or the name of their child--adoption, marriage, establishing parentage--but for many people, a name change can be the last step in the divorce process. Many people--women, especially--change their last name to match their partner’s when they get married. In the event that you get divorced, changing your last name to what it was prior to the marriage is a way that many people emotionally detach themselves from the marriage and their ex-spouse. The easiest way to change your last name in the event of a divorce is to add it to the divorce decree, but you do not have to do it then. You can change your name at any time after the divorce.

Seven Steps to Changing Your Name After a Divorce

Changing your name in Illinois is a relatively easy process. As long as you have been a resident of Illinois for at least six months, and you have not been convicted of a felony or a sex crime, you can proceed with the steps to change your name. 

1. Prepare the Forms Required

There are two forms required to change your name: a petition and a Notice of Filing for Change of Name. The petition is the formal request asking the court to change your name. In it you must state why you want to change your name, and you must also include proof that you meet the residency and felony requirements. The Notice of Filing for Change of Name is the public notice, which is required by law, that you are changing your name. The notice also includes what name you are changing yours to and the date of the hearing.

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Winfield intercountry adoption lawyerWhen it comes to adoptions, there are a couple different methods that prospective parents can choose from. One of the first decisions you have to make is if you want to go through a domestic adoption, meaning you are adopting a child within the United States, or an intercountry adoption, meaning you are adopting a child from another country and bringing that child back to the United States to live with you. Both types of adoptions can be difficult and tedious, but intercountry adoptions have specific rules and regulations that domestic adoptions do not.

Hague vs. Non-Hague Adoptions

Two types of intercountry adoptions exist for U.S. citizens: Hague and non-Hague adoptions. The country you decide to adopt from will determine which process you will adopt by.

Hague Adoptions

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, also known as the “Hague Adoption Convention,” is an international treaty that was created to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents involved in adoptions.

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Posted on in Family law

Warrenville family law attorney adoption guardianship parental rightsThere are two legal routes of establishing care for a child whose parents cannot provide them with an adequate home: adoption and guardianships. In some cases, adoption, which severs any legal relationship between a child and its mother, is not in the best interest of the child. This is when guardianship comes into play, usually as a temporary legal status.

Adoption

In an adoption, the adoptive parents are given all of the legal rights and responsibilities that previously belonged to the birth parents. The birth parents either have to voluntarily give up their parental rights or have them involuntarily terminated. Adoption is a lifelong, permanent legal relationship.

An adopted child has all of the same legal rights as birth children if the adoptive parents die and do not have a will, meaning the child is entitled to any inheritance or survivor’s benefits in the event of a death. In an adoption, all decision making is up to the adoptive parents, including decisions about schooling, medical treatments, or visitation of birth parents, depending on the terms of the adoption.

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Warrenville parental responsibility attorneyNobody thinks of the end of a marriage when they get married, and even though the divorce rate in the United States is declining, divorce is still common. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 29,331 divorces were granted in the state of Illinois in 2016. Divorces are stressful and emotional, and they become more so when children are involved. When children are a part of divorce, they bring issues with them that need to be resolved, such as child custody, child support, and visitation.

Parental Responsibilities Instead of Custody

The state of Illinois no longer refers to custody of children. Since a new law was introduced in 2016, what used to be known as custody is now referred to as parental responsibilities, and the amount of time children spend with each parent is known as parenting time. Parental responsibility consists of significant decision-making for children, and there are four types of decision-making:

  • Education, including choosing schools and tutors.
  • Health, including decisions pertaining to the medical, dental, and psychological well-being of the child.
  • Religion. 
  • Extracurricular activities.

Unless an agreement is submitted to the court that details the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will determine which responsibilities are allocated to each parent. The law also states that there is no requirement to allocate any responsibilities to each parent.

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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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