Many couples who divorce do so before the children reach college age. A good Judgment of Divorce will contemplate payment of college tuition. However, many divorce agreements do not address higher education, and when they do, sometimes circumstances change before the child gets to college. As such there is often disagreement between divorced spouses regarding college tuition.
As always, it is smart to try to settle those disputes without resort to litigation. However, payment for college expenses is litigated frequently in New Jersey between ex-spouses. When those disputes reach the courthouse, the Family Court will weigh the following twelve factors when making its decision:
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, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of child for higher education.
3. The amount of contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education.
4. The ability of the parent to pay that cost.
5. The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of 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.