Helping your child attend college and receive an education that can aid
them in becoming productive and contributing members to society is an
important part of parenthood. By law, parents have an obligation to contribute
to their child’s education, and those obligations can be enforced
in child support orders. However, when a child reaches adult age and attends
college, parents have many questions about whether their financial needs,
including room, board, and tuition, would apply to child support. Although
it may come as a surprise, it generally does not.
Over the years, New Jersey courts have grappled with the concept of parental
obligations when it comes to college. In important cases handled by the
courts, the issue often centered on the fact that while divorced parents
may have been legally obligated to contribute to college, intact parents
had no such obligation. In one landmark case, Black v. Black, the court
ultimately ruled that no parent should be expected or required to contribute
to their child’s college education more than he or she can reasonably afford.
New Jersey child support guidelines are fairly clear about what constitutes
support and what doesn't. The fact is this: if a child isn't living
under the physical custody of a parent, the other parent would then typically
not be required to provide tuition costs and other expenses related to
college. Likewise, a student can't file a complaint and say that his
or her father or mother isn't keeping up with the child support payments
– which would go to his or her tuition and other costs – because
it's a plain fact that the child isn't living under the support
of either parent (technically). That child is now living independently.
Alone. And responsible.
It is important to note that child support orders can still apply and be
sent to the custodial parent, particulary if one parent has the financial
means and an arragement has been made. It's stipulated, though, that
the funds from child support wouldn't necessarily be attributed to
the costs of college unless decided upon by the custodial parent in such
a hypothetical case. Payments for child support, however, are typically
not directly attributed to college costs, room and board, especially directly
to the child(ren) in college. Our blog -
Who is responsible for college tuition? - covers more on this subject.
As with any family law matter, every situation is different. If you have
questsions about child support, education, and any other issues,
contact our New Jersey family lawyers at Moskowitz Law Group.