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Paying for college tuition as a divorced couple

You and your former spouse have a child who wishes to attend college. You know that college tuition proves incredibly costly, and you worry that your ex-spouse will have no interest in helping pay the excessive fees. Luckily, in the state of New Jersey, you and your former spouse both face requirements by law to continue to provide for your child’s education – even when he or she reaches the age of 18.

New Jersey law considers children over the age of 18 unemancipated, meaning that their education expenses will still fall largely on the individual parents. The law will end when your child receives their desired post high school degree, whether the degree is a 2-year or traditional 4-year college education.

A court will look at many elements when determining the exact amount each parent will pay to the expense, but the law ensures that a child’s hope to obtain higher education is not diminished by one parent’s refusal to pay. When determining a quantity to pay toward tuition, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney, so that he or she can help ensure that your child’s expenses are fairly covered by both spouses.

Determining the quantity to supply to your child

According to New Jersey law, educational expenses do not necessarily mean only tuition. Expenses could include:

  • Room and board
  • Transportation
  • Books and supplies
  • Registration and application costs
  • Computer costs and labs

If you and your former spouse can decide a number that each spouse will pay with regard to these expenses, you may simply draft a document with the help of your attorney and present this document to the court. The court will not interfere if you and your ex-spouse agree to your own terms.

A judge will look at a multitude of factors when deciding an amount that each spouse will pay toward tuition and college expenses if you and your former spouse do not agree.

A judge may consider the following factors, among others:

  1. Whether you and your ex-spouse would expect your child to pay for some of the expenses
  2. The socioeconomic benefits of obtaining a higher education
  3. The total amount needed for schooling
  4. The ability of each parent to pay, based on income
  5. The type of college your child wishes to attend
  6. Your child’s commitment and ability to finish a degree
  7. The length of time to complete the area of study
  8. The existence of trust funds or scholarships

Know that a court will not bring undue hardship on individual parents to pay for their son or daughter’s college schooling, but New Jersey views education as a necessity, so a judge will decide a proper amount to pay. You may wish to hire a knowledgeable attorney to aid you in developing a fair, sound document for your child’s higher education.

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