Considering A Child’s College Expenses In Divorce

Sending a child to college can be a huge expense. If you have minor children, part of your divorce decree may involve arranging for both spouses to contribute to the children's college expenses. Unlike most states, New Jersey does not automatically emancipate children at the age of 18 or 19.

New Jersey family law states that parents must continue to support their child as long as their child is in post-high school education. Part of that support may include college expenses. Robin Jill Schneider is a New Jersey Supreme Court-Certified Matrimonial Attorney who can help you with complicated family law matters like determining college contributions.

Factors That Determine When Parents Must Contribute To College Expenses

You will have to determine as a family whether the law requires you to contribute to your child's college education. The law sets out many factors, and they can be quite confusing. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • How much the child may need for the costs of higher education
  • The parents' ability to pay that cost
  • Other financial resources of the child, including the ability to work
  • Financial aid resources available to the child
  • The child's commitment and aptitude to the chosen course of study

As you can see, these factors can vary greatly from family to family. If your child will be going to college in the near future, calculating these costs may be easier than if you have small children who won't be leaving home for many years.

Establishing A Fair Framework For College Contributions

Many parents choose to include college expenses in their child support agreement so everyone understands the expectations and responsibilities that lie ahead. When we review a child support agreement, and consider all the needs of a child, we want to make sure that support payments either count toward college expenses or child support expenses, but not both. The two are connected, but not the same.

Your support agreement should lay out a realistic plan based on your incomes and other assets and how much you expect to pay. You will want an experienced family law lawyer to help you determine the right plan for your child.

Contact Our Experienced Lawyer

We can help you with difficult child support issues. Call our Matawan office today at 732-812-4944 for a free initial consultation, or fill out our online form. Our firm represents clients throughout Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey.