Divorced Parents’ Obligations to Contribute to their Children’s College Expenses
Paying for college is never easy. With tuition and fees at private colleges reaching an average of approximately $35,000 per year, funding a college education is a universal struggle for both students and parents. In cases of divorce, parents are likely to have many questions about their obligations to contribute financially to their child’s college education and related expenses. In New Jersey, the courts have held that divorced parents generally have a responsibility to contribute to the higher education of their children, if they have the financial means to do so. In many situations, the divorce settlement or judgment itself will address the issue of college contributions. Some divorce settlement agreements or judgments will assign each parent’s financial obligation to pay for their children to attend college, a vocational school or other post-secondary education. Other agreements or judgments will require the issues to be addressed at the time the child is getting ready to apply to college. When such a provision is not included in the judgment or an agreement does not address the issue, a court may require both parents to financially contribute to their children’s post-secondary education costs, after consideration of the relevant legal factors.
The Supreme Court case of Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982) is the seminal case in New Jersey establishing that divorced parents must contribute to their children’s college education costs. In this case, the Supreme Court explained that post-secondary education is no longer limited to the elite, it is available to practically everyone. Accordingly, parents who are financially capable of contributing, have a responsibility to assure that their children can attend college and potentially, even graduate school.
New Jersey Divorce Attorney Advising Parents on College Contribution
The attorneys at Einhorn Barbarito have decades of collective experience helping clients navigate complex and contentious family law matters. Our family law and divorce lawyers understand the tremendous financial challenges associated with raising children into adulthood. Paying for college is a constant worry for parents, and costs are only expected to rise. In cases of divorce, parents often have many questions and disagreements over what costs should be covered and how much each parent should be required to contribute when their children graduate from high school and move on to college.
When contribution disputes arise that cannot be fairly resolved outside of formal legal proceedings, the court will take into consideration a host of factors ranging from the financial resources of the child and each parent to any scholarships, financial aid, and grants that may be available, to the child. The court will also take into consideration the child’s relationship with his or her parents. If a parent is estranged from a child, the Court will consider that estrangement and the reasons for it as part of its analysis.
College Contribution Issues Can Be Complicated
There are no simple answers in college contribution matters. Many times, an agreement or divorce judgment will provide that parents will contribute “to the extent they are able.” As a result, it is not uncommon in a child’s junior or senior year of college for this issue to be presented to the court to decide how much each parent should contribute to the college education of their child.
College contribution is not an issue that can be dealt with at the last minute. It is advisable for the parent seeking contribution or looking to defend against a request for financial contributions, to consult with an attorney well in advance of the time that the issue arises. For example, if one parent knows that their situation is not positive financially, they should consider writing a letter to the other parent advising that finances may need to dictate the colleges that the child is considering. One must be careful not to look at high-end colleges and participate in college searches when they cannot contribute to the costs of higher education.
A New Jersey Divorce Lawyer at Einhorn Barbarito Can Guide You Through College Contribution Matters
College contribution is a highly complex area of New Jersey family law requiring the knowledge and effort of skilled family law attorneys. If you are seeking college contributions or are defending against such a request, it is important to seek assistance from a New Jersey divorce and family law attorney who understands the specific issues associated with these types of matters. The Family Law practice at Einhorn Barbarito combines advanced negotiation skills with sophisticated litigation techniques to help clients throughout New Jersey achieve fair and effective results. We will take the time to learn about your circumstances and work with you to develop an individualized strategy that will best serve you and your child’s interests. Contact our law firm today to schedule a case evaluation.Print PDF
Family Law Blog
- The New Jersey Divorce Process – Part I
- Do You Want To Change Your Name? Pay Attention To The Details For Success.
- States Take Action To Protect Children From Forced Marriages
- Legal Separation In New Jersey
- Issues That Must Be Considered In A Divorce With A Special Needs Child
- 10 Things You Should Tell Your Divorce Attorney
- Gestational Carrier Agreements Are Now Legal In The State Of New Jersey
- Fact/Fiction In Divorce
- New Laws On Cyber-Harassment
- Cyber Bullying
- Don’t Trust Your Divorce To A ‘Robot’
- Where Are The Grandparents? Raising Their Grandchildren!
- Don’t Let Your Kid Go Off To College Without These Important Documents
- Biology Alone Doesn’t Always Define A Parent
- Alimony Is Not Forever, So Plan Ahead
- There Is Still No Bright-Line Rule To Defining Emancipation
- The O’Reilly Divorce, And The “Factors” Behind Sealing Case Information
- A Groundbreaking Decision Regarding Common-Law Marriage
- What Triggers The Right To A Protective Order?
- Mississippi Domestic Abuse Bill Fails
- Do You Think Enough Time Has Passed And You Want To Review Your Custody Agreement? It May Not Be So Easy To Do
- “Honey, Here Is An Agreement For You To Sign And, If You Do, Then I Will Stay Married To You. Sound Fair Or Not?”
- Will I Have To Pay For College Expenses For My Children Or Not?
- Do I Have To Pay Child Support While My Children Are In College? Maybe.
- What Is A Family? The Legal Definition Of A Family Has Changed.
- Do You Want A Private Divorce Like Brad Pitt And Angelina Jolie? Maybe You Can Have One And Maybe You Can’t.
- “Happy Valentine’s Day! Will You Marry Me? And By The Way, Here Is A Prenuptial Agreement To Sign.” Isn’t That Romantic?
- Parents Who Agreed to Emancipate Estranged Daughter Are Entitled To A Hearing After Trial Court “Unemancipates” And Requires College Contribution
- Who Gets The Tickets In The Divorce?
- Cyber-Harassment Added To The Domestic Violence Statute
- Assets “Earned” During A Pre-Marriage Cohabitation Are NOT Subject To Equitable Distribution — But They May Be Distributed Anyway.
- Where Are The Grandparents? Raising Their Grandchildren!
- Divorce vs ‘Divorce From Bed And Board’: Could Nancy O’Dell Obtain A Legal Separation In New Jersey?
- How To Avoid The Hazardous Effects Of Social Media On Divorce
- You Want My Engagement Ring? It’s Mine! No, It’s Mine!
- Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt’s Battle For Custody
- What Was Brad Pitt’s “Safety Plan” And Why Did He Have One?
- Who Gets The World Series Tickets In The Divorce?
- Your Divorce Will Not Look Like That Of Brad Pitt And Angelina Jolie
- Will Tom Cruise Ever See Suri Again?
- Lombardi v. Lombardi: Alimony Awards Should Include A Savings Component For the Formerly Frugal Family
- Divorce Season?
- No Fault Divorce – What Does It Mean?
- Custody Wars – Judicial Tactics
- Divorce Is Traumatic – Don’t Get Caught Unprepared
- Is My Marital Agreement Enforceable?
- A Possible New Avenue Of Relief For Victims of Assault By Non-Family Members
- It’s Not Binding If It Is Not In Writing
- Which Court Decides Custody And Parenting Time Disputes When Parents Live In Separate Countries?
- Domestic Violence Can Happen To Anyone