College Expenses and Divorce in NJ

Higher education affords many opportunities and the New Jersey Superior Courts consider it a necessity, despite the high cost of college expenses. To understand why the Court orders divorced parents to pay for their children to attend college, one must look to the leading case of Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982).

Image result for college costs stock photosThe Twelve Factors Considered

  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.

These factors are of particularly significant if you are already divorced, but did not discuss anticipated college costs in your Marital Settlement Agreement. If you have children in high school and do not think that college costs can be resolved amicably, please contact our attorneys today!

The Case of Black v. Black

A 2014 Ocean County case, Black v. Black, raises questions about the practicality of New Jersey Courts ordering parents to pay college expenses far beyond their means. In this case, the Judge observed three facts that warranted serious analysis. Factors considered in the case included:

  1. How does a damaged relationship between a divorced parent and child affect contribution toward college expenses?
  2. Is the choice of school (private v. public) significant to the contribution analysis?
  3. How is the Court to approach ordering contribution to college expenses when there are younger siblings involved?

If any of these issues apply to your unique situation, you should consider speaking with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options. Call our office at 973-366-5244!