Will Child Support Change with Enrollment in College?Published: Aug 18, 2017 in Family Law
Whether you are the parent who receives child support or pays it, you are probably wondering how the situation will change once your child heads off to college. If you are the custodial parent, you may hope you keep receiving child support to help pay your son or daughter’s education. Or, if you are the non-custodial parent, you may be worried your financial obligation increases when your child suddenly has tuition and room and board to pay for. Your child support situation will change when your child goes to college. However, how it changes depends on your situation.
When Child Support Ends in New Jersey
In general, your duty to pay or your right to receive child support ends when your son or daughter turns 19. However, you can ask for it to end earlier if your child is emancipated as a teen, which means they are financially and legally independent. You can also for support to extend beyond your child’s 19th birthday if they are still in high school, are disabled, or enrolled in post-secondary education.
Ultimately, the child support obligation as you knew it for years ends when your child turns 19. However, both you and your child’s other parent could be held responsible for helping your son or daughter with college expenses.
Paying for College
If you are an unmarried or divorced parent in New Jersey, you can be required to contribute to your adult child’s higher education expenses. For this to become a reality, the other parent would have to petition the court to force you to contribute – which many parents do. Once it is in the court’s hands, the judge will look at a number of factors laid out in the 1982 case, Newburgh V. Arrigo, to determine whether you should be required to contribute and how much. These factors are:
- Whether a parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward high education expenses
- The effect of the background, values, and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education
- The amount contribution the child or other parent seeks
- The ability of the parent to pay that contribution
- The relationship of the potential contribution to the kind of school or area of study preferred by the child
- The financial resources of other parents
- The commitment to and aptitude of the child toward the potential education
- The financial resources of the child
- The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation
- The availability of financial aid, such as loans and grants
- The child’s relationship with the paying parent
- The relationship of the potential education to any prior training or the child’s long-term goals
However, there are limitations to your potential financial obligation. In a 2014 case, Black v. Black, a New Jersey superior court found, regardless of a student’s preferences on where to attend college, no parent should be expected to financially contribute more than they can reasonably afford.
In determining how much a parent can or cannot afford, the court can look at a number of factors beyond the parent’s annual income. For instance, in the case of Black v. Black, the judge specifically looked at the fact the parents had two younger children who would also need to go to college within a few years.
What Does This Mean for You?
Under New Jersey law, it is possible for you to get stuck with a significant bill when it comes to your child’s college education. However, there are also ways to minimize your required contributions. If your child is approaching high school graduation and you know they intend to enroll in college, it is time to contact an experienced Jersey City child support lawyer and figure out a plan now. Do not wait until your child has picked a school and enrolled in classes.
How Our Child Support Lawyers Can Help You
By working with us at Bhatt Law Group, we can help you sit down with your child’s other parent and work out an agreement for college expenses before it becomes a pressing issue. Through discussions or more structured mediation, you and the other parent can agree on how much you are both able to contribute and which expenses your financial assistance will go toward.
If your child’s other parent has petitioned the court to require you to pay college expenses, call us right away. Without experienced legal representation, you could be forced to pay more than is reasonable. Our child support attorneys understand the nuances and evolution of New Jersey law on this subject and are prepared to demonstrate to the court what would be a reasonable contribution.