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Family law: College expenses

A parent is obligated to pay child support until their child is considered emancipated by the state. According to the law, a child is ’emancipated’ automatically at the age of nineteen in the state of New Jersey. But the law comes with stipulations attached. The law states that the child will automatically be emancipated on their nineteenth birthday unless,

  1. The child is still enrolled in high school or another secondary educational program
  2. The child is a student in a college for an undergraduate or graduate program for full-time.
  3. The child has a physical or mental disability, as determined by a federal or state government agency, and requires continued child support. 
  4. Another date for termination of child support is specified with a court order.

Even though the child is not considered emancipated if he or she is a college student, the college expenses do not fall under child support and are treated differently by the court. The court reviews the college education of a child separately. The New Jersey state strongly believes in education for children, and if the parents are unable to decide on paying college expenses together, the court can intervene and decide for them. The court considers many factors when making this decision to ensure neither the parent nor the child is being unfairly treated. The factors that are considered when deciding college expenses include:

  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, value, and goals of the parents on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for high education.
  3. The amount of contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education.
  4. The ability of the parent to pay the 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 parties.
  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.
  12. The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child.

If the parents are capable of paying all or some of the child’s college expenses, the court orders the parents to do so. It is in the best interest of the child and the state if the child receives higher education. But the child is also expected to fulfill their duties as a student and be devoted to their studies.

If you have questions or require more information regarding your child’s college tuition, our attorneys at Bhuchar Law Firm can help you assess your situation.