Mother filed a contribution petition requesting that father be ordered to pay an equitable share of the anticipated college costs under Section 513 for their daughter.  The parties had never married.  Their paternity order was silent on their obligation to contribute to their daughter’s college expenses.

Father’s response admitted that he had the financial ability to pay. Nonetheless, he objected to paying because he had not been involved in the college selection process.

The trial court indicated that it thought section 513 was “interesting” because it raised a potential equal protection issue.  He felt the statue was unfair in the way unmarried and married parents were treated.   More specifically, the court explained that “[p]eople that are married and have children have no obligation at all to pay for their children’s college education. Because of that, people who are married have input into where their children go to school. *** The legislature has taken away that choice from people who are not married. If you were to say that that is unfair, if you were to say that those people were treated unequally, I would agree with you, but that’s what the law is.”

The court then ordered Rosemary and Charles each to pay 40% of their daughter’s prospective college expenses, with the daughter paying the remaining 20%.

Two months later, father challenged section 513 on equal protection grounds for the first time. This court had upheld section 513 against an equal protection challenge in Kujawinski v. Kujawinski, 71 Ill. 2d 563 (1978).  But, father argued that the decision no longer applied due to changes in family structures.  Including an increase in the number of divorced and never married parents.

Father then filed a petition to terminate or modify the college expenses order.   In its written order, the trial court declared section 513 unconstitutional as applied for not permitting unmarried parents to have the same input in their children’s college decisions as married parents.  Mother appealed.

The Appellate Court vacated the trial court’s judgment.  In making its ruling, the trial court declined to follow this court’s longstanding precedent and effectively overruled it.   The case was sent back to the trial court for further proceedings.

Yakich v. Aulds, 2019 IL 123007.

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