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Child support and college expenses in New Jersey, part one

Somerville parents may have discovered by now that child support continues to be a complex and contentious issue long after a couple decides to divorce or end their relationship. Many factors are taken into consideration when determining child support payments under guidelines provided by the New Jersey Supreme Court. But there are also many factors that can prompt modifications of child support agreements including an increase of one's salary or a child's decision to attend college.

New Jersey is one of only a few states that may require parents to help pay for a child's college expenses or other postsecondary educational programs. The state uses a 14-part analysis to determine whether parents are financially capable of paying for college tuition and other costs. Sometimes the court may rule that a parent has an obligation to help pay for college expenses even if the parent is forced to take out a loan to do so. Additionally, a parent may still be required to pay child support while he or she absorbs some of the child's college costs.

This is still a controversial issue in New Jersey and in other states. Some parents believe that their children should be responsible for their own educational costs beyond high school. Others might argue that they should not be required to pay child support if they are now financially supporting their child's decision to attend college. As a result, many parents may choose to dispute this issue in court.

A recent ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court offers an example of what types of circumstances might make a parent obligated to provide financial support to a child who is attending college. The higher court ruled earlier this month that a father, whose annual income was substantially higher than his ex-wife's income, was obligated to help pay for his son's college costs. We will look at this case in further detail later this week on our Somerville family law blog and discuss when a parent's obligation to pay for a child's college expenses may end.

Source: The Republic, "SC Supreme Court rules some divorced parents paying child support should also pay for college," Jeffrey Collins, March 7, 2012

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David W. Trombadore,
Attorney at Law

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Somerville, NJ 08876
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