Child Support for College Education

New Jersey’s child support laws changed significantly with the February 2017 release of S-1046/A-2721This update to child support law now means that all child support obligations will automatically terminate when a supported child reaches the age of 19, unless the parents specifically state otherwise in their divorce’s child support agreement. Considering that this is the age at which many children are in the middle of pursuing a higher education such as college, university, or vocational training, this can put a great deal of strain on any parent’s finances if their child support agreement does not account for this expense.

However, while it is also easier to include a plan for your child’s post-secondary education in your initial child support agreement, if you, like many parents, did not anticipate this change in the law, the good news is that your child support agreement can be modified to include financial support for your child’s college education.

Requesting a Continuation of Child Support to Pay for College Expenses, Elizabeth Child Support Modification Attorney

If your child support agreement is set to automatically terminate when your child reaches the age of 19, with the help of an experienced Elizabeth, NJ child support attorney, you can file a motion known as a “Request for Continuation of Support” with the family courts, and potentially extend or increase the amount of child support you are receiving in order to help support your child’s college education. However, by law, no child can receive child support past the age of 23, and financial support will also terminate in the event that your child marries, or joins the military.

In order for your “Request for Continuation of Support” to be successful, you and your attorney will need to prove that one of the three following factors are true:

  • Your child is still enrolled in high school or an alternative secondary-educational program such as a vocational school.
  • Your child is attending college or university full time
  • Your child has, or developed, a physical or mental disability before reaching the age of 19

In order to prove that your child is indeed enrolled full time in high school or a post-secondary educational program, a very specific type of document is required. In this case, you will need to complete some type of enrollment verification. Which one you complete depends on the school that your child is attending, but the most commonly accepted enrollment verification is that of EnrollmentVerify provided by the National Student Clearinghouse®.

To reiterate, things like transcripts, tuition bills, college acceptance letters, or financial aid documents are not accepted forms of proof of your child’s full-time educational enrollment.

How Much Child Support Can I Expect to Pay or Receive for my Child’s Education? Union Child Support Lawyer

New Jersey case law is such that more and more, a child’s college education is being considered a “necessary expense”, and as such if one parent requests financial support for that education from another parent, chances are that parent will be expected to contribute to some degree towards their child’s post-secondary education, given the child is attending full time.

When it comes to determining each parent’s financial obligations towards their child’s college education, family courts will consider a variety of factors. Each factor is weighed differently in each case, and often the arguments and presentation of evidence by your attorney can greatly influence how much weight each factor is given when deciding both parents’ financial obligations towards their child’s education. These factors include:

  • Whether the supporting parent, if they hadn’t divorced, would have contributed towards the child’s education
  • Each parent’s background, values, and goals, and how this affects the reasonable expectation that the child would pursue a post-secondary education
  • The amount of support sought by the child for their educational costs
  • The ability of each parent to pay for those costs
  • The relationship between the requested financial support and the type of program being sought by the child
  • The child’s educaitonal history, and their perceived commitment towards pursuing higher education
  • The possibilities for the child to pursue their desired educational path in schools with a lesser cost
  • Any financial resources individually held by the child such as assets held in custodianship or a trust
  • The possibility for the child to contribute towards their expenses by working during vacations
  • The availability of financial aid, student loans, and grants
  • The relationship between the child and the parent whose support is being requested, including mutual affection, shared goals, and the child’s responsiveness to that parent’s advice and guidance

As you can see, a great many factors will need to be presented, weighed, and considered during any request for child support continuation. Whether you are a custodial parent seeking continued financial support for your child’s education, or a non-custodial parent concerned about your child’s commitment to higher education and how it may affect your financial situation, having an experienced child support attorney to help guide and advise you throughout this process can be of enormous benefit.

Contact A Union County Child Support Attorney Today

At The Law Office of Edward Cooper, we have extensive experience helping parents to plan for their child’s college expenses in their initial child support settlement, modifying child support settlements when circumstances change, and guiding and representing parents through the entire child support continuation process in towns across Union County, including Westfield, Elizabeth, Plainfield, Linden, and Union.

Attorney Edward S. Cooper strongly believes in keeping each of his clients highly informed and involved throughout the legal process, and that by doing so, he can better work to secure the resolution which meets his client’s, and their family’s, unique needs and concerns in any matter.

To speak with Edward Cooper and our family law team today in a confidential consultation regarding your divorce, your child support agreement, planning for your child’s college education, or any child support modification or continuation issue you may have, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625.