Question: What if a petition for college expenses is filed after a child graduated from college but while my divorce is pending?
Answer: I think the main question here is whether or not the court has the authority to decide the issue because there has not been a settlement agreement binding the parties and there is no final determination of the issue between the parties. Also, as I have discussed in my previous blog postings, is it to late because the child has already graduated college?
In In re Marriage of Chee, the first district Appellate Court determined that in fact the Court had the authority to decide the issue even though no final judgment for dissolution of marriage was entered.
In re Marriage of Chee, a petition for dissolution was filed by the wife. However, the husband filed a motion to dismiss the petition because he was not divorced from his first wife when he and the mother married. The court ruled that the parties marriage was void. However, the court retained jurisdiction over the issue of college expenses and agreed to continue to hearing on the subject. The parties son graduated college before the petition for dissolution was filed. The Court in Chee held that the college expenses could be determined as part of the underlying action with the other issues of the case. The Court in Chee notes that this fact pattern is different from the case of Peterson (discussed in my previous blogs). The Court stated that Peterson did not control because there was no final adjudication or reservation of college expenses before the wife sought contribution. Therefore, she was still able to seek such.
Depending on the facts of each case, its important to contact an attorney that is knowledgeable in the area of family law.