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How is college paid for when the parents are divorced?

Oftentimes parents get divorced when children are young, and the parents don't think while entering their divorce agreement about what will happen when the child goes away to college. At other times, the parents attempt to come to an agreement about how college will be paid for, but just can't agree. Whether one or both parents can be required to contribute to their child's education is looked at on a case by case parents.


If the parents can't come to an agreement, a Court will look at a variety of factors to figure out how much, if anything, each parent should contribute to the costs of college. Those factors are:


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.


These factors, and more information are outlined in the case of Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982).

If you are having trouble reaching agreement with regards to the payment of college expenses, call my office to schedule an appointment where we can discuss the issue in greater detail, as every case is different and there are not simple answers to these complicated legal questions.


609-515-6103
South Jersey Attorney with a focus on Criminal Defense & Divorce
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