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Family Law: College Expenses

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College Expenses (550)

The New Jersey Courts have viewed education as a necessity. The recent trend in New Jersey has been to require parents to pay for the college costs for their children. Therefore, if the child is attending college, then it is very unlikely that a court will grant an emancipation motion.

When a court makes a decision as to whether or not to require a parent to pay for a child's college education and related expenses, the court must consider the complete set of facts of each case. The decision on whether or not a parent should pay for the college costs rests in the court's hand. However, there is a strong trend toward requiring parents, if they are financial capable, to pay for the college. In most cases, the court will not require the payor to pay for college and for child support at the same time. However, once again the key issue is how much money the payor has.

Based on relevant case law, all parents are required to contribute to the college education costs of their children in New Jersey.  The determination of how much each parent is to contribute to the costs of that education is defined by the factors and legal findings in the landmark case of Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, 545 (1982). 

Those factors are as follows:

  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, value and goals of the parents on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for high education. 
  3. The amount of contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education.
  4. The ability of the parent to pay the 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 parties.
  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.
  12. The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child.

The underlying rational of the Newburgh v. Arrigo decision is that if society does not mandate the duty of parents to pay for their children's college costs, then the number of children who go on to higher education will decrease. Moreover, society will suffer if less children receive a college education. New Jersey has a vested interest in encouraging children who want to go to college. If they have the academic ability, then children should be able to attend college without assuming staggering student loans, if their families can afford to help out.

If your child is planning to attend college and you want to determine what, if any, your obligation will be to contribute to those expenses, our New Jersey family law attorneys can help.

 

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