New Jersey Child Support Lawyers: Back to School – and Back to Having Tuition Disputes

If you and your ex are having disputes about who pays tuition for your children, you are not alone. Some families argue about tuition for private elementary school or high school. Other families may argue about tuition for college, trade schools, or even graduate school. Regardless of what the tuition dispute is, the skilled family law attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can walk you and your family through the process.

In general, after a family splits up, New Jersey Courts can and often do compel parents to pay for their children’s tuition at all levels of education.

When it comes to private grammar or private high school, Courts will look at factors such as: (1) each parent’s ability to pay; (2) past attendance of parent(s) at that or similar schools; (3) whether children were attending private school pre or post separation; (4) prior agreements of the parents; (5) religious background; (6) special educational, psychological, or special needs of children; (7) child’s best interest; (8) whether court order or parties’ agreement specifically gives the custodial parent the right of school choice; (9) was enrollment reasonable; (10) whether tuition was authorized or included as part of State child support guidelines; (11) child’s ability to respond and prosper in private school; (12) lack of present or past involvement in education by the noncustodial parental; (13) degree of involvement of custodial parent in education; and (14) custodial parent’s views and desires, consistent with past practices regarding private school education. Hoefers v. Jones, 288 N.J. Super. 590 (Ch. Div. 1994).

On the issue of tuition for college, trade school, and graduate school, the analysis is different. In those circumstances, the Courts will look to these factors to determine whether a non-custodial parent can be made to pay tuition: (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 the child for higher education; (3) the amount of the 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 school or course of study sought by the child; (6) the financial resources of both parents; (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; and (12) the relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child. Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982).

It is important to keep in mind, however, that even when examining all of the above factors, every case is different. Each child, each parent, each family has different educational abilities, different emotional aspirations, and different financial resources. That is why it is critical to have the right family law attorney to help you formulate the correct course of action.

Contact the New Jersey Child Support Lawyers at Lyons & Associates

If you or someone you know has a question about tuition payments, call Lyons & Associates, P.C. today at 908-575-9777 to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled family law attorneys. You can also fill out our online intake form.