In New Jersey, divorced parents as well as non-married parties with children, can have an obligation to contribute to their child’s college education and related expenses. Some divorcing parties even include provisions for this obligation in the divorce agreements. College contribution is determined by weighing various factors originally set forth in the decision Newburgh v. Arrigio, 88 N.J. 529 (1982):
Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education;
The effect of the background, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education;
The amount of the contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education;
The ability of the parent to pay that cost;
The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child;
The financial resources of both parents;
The commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education;
The financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust;
The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation;
The availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans;
The child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance; and
The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child.
The law interpreting these factors is extensive and evolving. Jennifer and Erin had helped clients resolve college contribution issues, both by agreement and litigation.