Divorced parents in New Jersey have an obligation to contribute to their children’s college expenses. On the other hand, married parents in New Jersey do not have the same obligation.
The case of Newburgh v. Arrigo provides a list of factors for a court to consider in assessing the obligation of the parents. This case is the cornerstone of any college contribution analysis. In evaluating the claim for contribution toward the cost of higher education, courts will consider the following factors.
Once a court weighs and balances the factors of each case, the court may order each parent to pay a certain percentage of college costs. College costs can include preparation courses, application fees, school visits, a computer, transportation to and from school on breaks. Obviously, the customary expenses of tuition, room, board and school fees are included.
Issues such as should the children take out loans or be allowed to attend Princeton over Rutgers can also be decided by a judge. It is, however, much more prudent to spell out these very important details in your divorce agreement. This agreement is your Property Settlement Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement.
Absent some legally recognizable change in circumstances, the provisions of your Property Settlement Agreement will govern each parent’s obligation towards college and will be enforced by the court.
If your agreement does not address college contribution, and the issue is not settled between the parents through their respective attorneys or a mediator, you will need to have the issue decided by the court and same will be addressed considering the 12 factors enumerated above.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you have questions about this post or any other family law matter.
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