An Illinois trial court ruled in favor of our client. The trial court held that the Illinois College Support Requirement for unmarried parents is unconstitutional as violating the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.
Our client, a very caring father wanted to pay 100% of the college expenses for his daughter to attend the best marine biology programs in the country to which she had been accepted. Her dream was to become a marine biologist. However, with the financial assistance of her mother, the daughter opted to attend a junior college and “party school” in Florida that had even made a list for the top party schools in the State. The Junior College also did not offer a degree in marine biology. Our client declined to pay for junior college tuition because he was shut out of the decision of where his daughter went to school. The Court originally ordered him to contribute to college as required by Illinois for all unmarried parents. We then sought a declaration that the statute was unconstitutional for treating unmarried parents differently and assuming they were not normal parents and would not look out for their children’s best interests as much as married parents. The Court found the statute unconstitutional and held that divorced or unmarried parents should not be treated differently than married parents.
The Court noted:
While traditional two-parent, married families were the norm in 1978, in 2018 they make up less than half. In fact, if considered in statistical terms, children from either non-married or divorced parents would be considered “normal” based on today’s demographics.
It held in finding the Illinois statute unconstitutional:
The rational basis standard utilized in Kujawinski presumes that never married or divorced couples are less normal and less likely to provide post-secondary education for their offspring than couples who are married, or single parents. While this may have been true in 1978, there is no basis for such a conclusion today.