In New Jersey, Am I Required to Contribute to the Cost of My Child’s College Education, Just Because I Am Divorced?
In this day and age, almost all New Jersey parents want their children to go to college as long as those children have the desire and ability to do so. However, those parents are not legally required to contribute to the cost of their children’s college education—unless the parents are divorced.
Does that make any sense? For many people, the answer is “no.”
The dichotomy began in 1982, when the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the case of Newburgh v. Arrigo that divorced parents who are financially capable should contribute to the higher education of their children who are qualified students. In the 30+ years that have since passed, that issue has been the subject of a great deal of litigation. The most recent case, which has received national attention, may just lead the New Jersey Legislature to pass a new law.
New Jersey residents Michael Ricci and Maura McGarvey are divorced. Their 19-year-old daughter Caitlyn graduated from high school in 2012, took several classes at a community college and got good grades. Then, she began a job internship, but was asked to leave that internship after an underage drinking infraction.
Her mother allowed Caitlyn to resume living with her on the condition that she take some classes and follow certain rules, including a strict curfew. Shortly after she came home, however, Caitlyn moved in with her paternal grandparents and is now attending Temple University.
Caitlyn filed a lawsuit (financed by her grandparents) in New Jersey Family Court to force her parents to contribute to her college costs.
The New Jersey Family Court Judge ruled that, although Caitlyn is emancipated for all other purposes, her parents are obligated to pay $16,000 of the $26,000 Temple University bill that has already been incurred. The parents have not paid any part of that amount, and the case is now on appeal.
Litigation involving New Jersey divorced parents’ contribution to their children’s college costs is very complex, and the results most often hinge on the proper development of the unique facts of each case. Salvaggio Law Group LLC devotes its entire practice to New Jersey Divorce and Family Law matters, including issues relating to contribution towards children’s college expenses.
If you want to talk, please call us at (973) 455-1220 or fill out the Contact Form on our website.