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Must a Non-Custodial Parent Pay for College Expenses?

While college costs are not generally a part of child support in New Jersey, you may still be required to contribute toward these educational expenses. The amount and requirements will vary depending on the circumstances.

Child support does not necessarily end when a child turns 18. New Jersey law does not consider a child emancipated if the child attends college as a full-time student. In that situation, you may be obligated to continue your support throughout college or until the child reaches the age of 23, whichever is sooner.

Child support is calculated according to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. College expenses are not included in the guidelines, but New Jersey courts do expect divorced parents to contribute to college expenses. The parents may agree as to how to pay for college between them. This agreement is often a part of the original divorce agreement or could be settled through mediation. Some parents include provisions in their divorce agreement that use the cost of a State University of New York education as a measurement of their required contribution.

When both parties cannot agree, a judge will determine who will pay the expenses and the amount they will pay. In making this decision, the judge will consider these 12 factors set forth in the precedential case of Newburgh v. Arrigo:

  1. Whether the parent, if they still lived with the child, would have paid towards the cost of higher education
  2. The impact of the values, background, and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation for higher education
  3. The amount of contribution sought by the child for their college education
  4. The parent’s ability to pay that cost
  5. The relationship between the requested contribution to the type of school or course of study by the child
  6. The financial resources of both parents
  7. The aptitude for and commitment to higher education by the child
  8. The financial resources of the child, including individual assets and those held in trust
  9. The child’s ability to earn income during school or while on vacations
  10. The availability of financial aid from college loans or grants
  11. The relationship between the child and the paying parent, including shared goals, mutual affection, and responsiveness to parental guidance and advice
  12. The relationship between the child’s long-range goals and the requested education prior to beginning any training

Also considered is the extent that both parents were involved in selecting the college where the child is to attend, which can make a big difference in the costs involved.

At the Law Office of Kisha M. Hebbon, LLC in Somerset, New Jersey, we can help you negotiate an agreement or represent you in court to resolve college expense disputes. Contact us online or call 732-873-6464 for a consultation.

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