COLLEGE CONTRIBUTION & NJ FAMILY LAW
New Jersey is among a handful of states in the country that believe that a parent's duty to assist their children doesn't end at the age of 18, but extends throughout their education. In part, this is based on the reality of the modern age, where a high school diploma, alone, is no guarantee of maturity, adulthood or adequate preparation for the workforce.
Realizing that modern economic reality has prolonged young people's entry into the workforce, NJ courts and lawmakers have fashioned a number of rules to ensure that unemancipated children do not miss-out on the opportunity and necessity of higher education, because their parents are divorced.
In Newburgh v. Arrigo, the NJ Supreme Court laid out a number of factors for courts to look-at in determining whether a divorced parent can be compelled to pay for the college education of their child. 88 N.J. 529, 443 A.2d 1031, (1982).
(1) whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education;
(2) the effect of the background, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education;
(3) the amount of the contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education;
(4) the ability of the parent to pay that cost;
(5) the relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child;
(6) the financial resources of both parents;
(7) the commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education;
(8) the financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust;
(9) the ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation;
(10) the availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans;
(11) the child's relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance; and
(12) the relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child.
Additional things the courts look for when applying these factors is whether (a) the child has been legally emancipated, (b) whether the costs of said school are reasonable for the child's chosen field of study, and (c) whether the parent and/or child had previously waived their right to receive said aid by way of a Consent Agreement. Because said agreements are binding, and are difficult to overcome at a later time, it is absolutely necessary that parents consult an attorney before going to court to negotiate any sort of support agreement that directly, or indirectly, involves issues of higher-education or emancipation.
If you live in South Jersey and are facing a contested child support matter where college contribution and/or you our your spouse's duty to pay for a child's college education is contested, then please contact my office immediately for a free consultation.
I treat every client with extra-special care and go over the evidence and facts of their case, in-depth, so that no stone is unturned in their legal defense.
Call us for quality, compassionate, and individualized representation: 856-873-3730