The Marital settlement agreement (MSA) provided that husband owed wife a child support arrearage in the amount of $79,301.44.  He would repay that debt by reimbursing each of the 3 children’s section 529 plans accordingly.    The parties  would jointly bear the children’s higher education expenses.  The MSA did not provide that husband’s repayment of the marital debt would reduce his personal future obligation for any higher education expenses once the children reached the age of majority.

Husband later filed a motion to modify his arrearage and college obligations.  The trial court held a hearing, after which it determined that husband’s child support obligation would be reduced.  However, the court ordered that husband would pay 40% of the oldest child’s college expenses (based on in-state tuition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).  Wife would pay 60%. In addition, the court ordered that there would be no modification of husband’s obligation to reimburse the children’s section 529 plans. Father appealed.

The Appellate Court agreed with the Trial Court.  Husband’s contributions to the minor children’s college savings plans could not be credited against his court-ordered contributions to the non-minor child’s higher education expenses.  Even though the statutory provision of the Marriage Act delineated a college savings account as a resource of the child.  The Act did not specifically provide for such credit.  The parties had specified in their marital settlement agreement that husband’s contributions to each child’s college savings plan was reimbursement of marital debt.

In re Marriage of Wilhelmsen, 2019 IL App (2d) 180898 (October 24, 2019) Lake Co.