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How Do Divorced Parents Pay for College?

Paying for a child’s college education can be a challenge for any family. After a divorce, you will likely find this process even more difficult if you and your co-parent are unsure of your rights and responsibilities regarding your child’s tuition.

Under most circumstances, New Jersey law will require both of you to contribute to your child’s higher education costs. When determining how much you and your co-parent will owe, the court will closely evaluate a variety of factors surrounding your family’s situation.

How the Court Determines Who Pays for Higher Education

Many believe the judge will consider only the parents’ financial resources when determining who will pay what portion of the college expenses. But because each situation is unique, the judge may evaluate more subjective or personal elements of your family dynamics and long-term goals.

Here are 10 factors a judge will likely consider when establishing a contribution arrangement for your child’s higher education costs:

  1. The contribution your child wants or needs for higher education
  2. You and your co-parent’s financial resources/ability to pay
  3. Your child’s level of commitment to the school and likelihood of success in higher education
  4. How higher education is related to your child’s prior training and/or long-term goals
  5. Your child’s financial resources (e.g. individually owned assets, or funds in a trust or custodianship)
  6. Your child’s ability to earn income during the school year or while on vacation
  7. The availability of financial aid (e.g. college grants or loans)
  8. Whether your child’s contribution request is appropriate for their anticipated school or course of study
  9. Your child's relationship with you and/or your co-parent, including mutual affection, shared goals, and responsiveness to parental advice and guidance
  10. Whether the expectation of higher education for your child is reasonable/practical or if it is based on the personal values and goals of you or your co-parent

While many cases will result in both of you providing some amount of money for your child to go to college, there are some situations where one parent’s contribution is not warranted. One example of this is when your child demands that you pay for his or her schooling, but refuses to maintain a relationship with you, despite your efforts.

Contact Our Firm for Personalized Counsel

If you are currently going through a divorce, you will need to make important decisions regarding payments toward your child’s college education. Depending on your particular situation, you may want to include terms in your divorce decree that set forth each parent’s obligation to contribute to the child’s higher education expenses. DeTommaso Law Group can help you create a property settlement agreement that suits your needs and supports your family’s long-term goals.

To learn more about how we can help you and your family, schedule your initial consultation or call our firm directly at (908) 274-3028 today.

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