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College Expenses and Child Support in New Jersey: What Parents Need to Know

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Child support in New Jersey can last until a child turns 19 or until 23 if they are enrolled full-time in high school, vocational school, or college, including graduate school. Child support payments can clearly continue while a child is attending college, but what about the college expenses themselves? Are they factored into the formula when calculating the amount of support that must be paid?

Navigating child support and college expenses in New Jersey can be complex for divorced or separated parents. Understanding how these expenses are factored into child support can help parents plan more effectively for their children’s higher education and also ensure that the proper support amount is determined fairly and accurately. Read on as we explore the statutes and case law and give some tips for parents dealing with these issues. For legal advice and representation related to child support in Union, Essex, or Middlesex County, contact the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced Union family law attorney.

Legal Framework for College Expenses in New Jersey

In New Jersey, parents are generally expected to contribute to their children’s college expenses. This expectation is rooted in several key legal precedents. One of the most significant cases is Newburgh v. Arrigo (1982), where the New Jersey Supreme Court established that parents could be required to contribute to their children’s higher education expenses based on a variety of factors.

When determining whether a parent should contribute to college expenses, New Jersey courts are required to consider “all relevant factors,” including the twelve listed below by the court in the Newburgh decision:

(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 the overall long-range goals of the child.

Impact on Child Support Payments

In New Jersey, child support typically continues until the child turns 19, but it can be extended if the child is still in school. When college expenses are involved, the existing child support order may be modified to include contributions toward these costs. This does not necessarily mean that the non-custodial parent will simply pay more; instead, the court will determine a fair distribution of expenses based on the factors mentioned above.

Practical Tips for Parents Regarding College Expenses and Child Support Obligations

1. Plan Early. Start discussing college plans early on. Understanding each parent’s financial situation and expectations can help avoid conflicts later.

2. Consider Mediation. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on college contributions, consider mediation. A neutral third party can help you reach an agreement without going to court.

3. Keep Records. Maintain thorough records of all college-related expenses and communications with the other parent regarding these costs. This documentation can be crucial if you need to go to court to resolve disputes.

4. Review Financial Aid Options. Encourage your child to apply for scholarships and financial aid. Any aid received can reduce the amount parents need to contribute.

5. Legal Guidance. Consult with a family law attorney to understand your rights and obligations. An experienced attorney can provide personalized advice and represent your interests in court if necessary.

Contact the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro for Help With Child Support Issues in Union, New Jersey

Understanding how college expenses are factored into child support in New Jersey can be challenging, but it is essential for planning your child’s future. By considering the legal precedents and practical tips outlined in this post, parents can better navigate this aspect of child support. If you need assistance or have questions about your specific situation, the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro are here to help. Call us today at 908-964-0102 to schedule a consultation and ensure that your child’s educational needs are met while protecting your financial interests.

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