With application season on the horizon, parents across the state are facing the bittersweet reality of sending their children off to college. Although acceptance letters won't be rolling in until next year, informed parents know that now is the time to start preparing, especially if you have concerns about the chunk of change you'll have to dish out to get your child through school.
If you're like most parents, some, if not most of your child's college expenses will be coming out of your pocket. Being separated or divorced from your child's other parent only exacerbates the financial concerns that most parents already have, due to the additional stipulations that come with child support agreements.
New Jersey law dictates that a divorced or separated parent's child support obligation extends to higher education. This means that unlike many other states, support doesn't end when your child graduates high school or has the capacity to live on their own in their college dorms. Although a child support agreement may be likely to change, these new circumstances won't end it.
Paying for College After a Divorce
How much money you'll pay for college after a divorce depends on the settlement agreement you have with your child's other parent. If, however, there isn't an agreement established, New Jersey courts consider the following factors:
- Your ability to pay the costs
- Whether you, if still living with the child, would have contributed towards the costs of the requested higher education
- The financial resources you and the other parent have
- The amount of the contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education
- The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation
- The commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education
- The availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans etc.
It's important to note that while your child is living in a dorm away from the other parent, you still will likely have to pay some amount of support. While yes, the custodial parent is not cooking them dinner every night or providing those everyday needs anymore, fixed payments like rent, mortgage, and tax payments have not changed. Also, the child may still have needs on a smaller scale while away, like toiletries, clothes, transportation, parking, cell-phone bill, insurance, etc.
Because of your obligation to contribute to college expenses, it's important you stay involved in your child's college decision-making process. Stay on top of them when it comes to filing for financial aid or scholarships and ensure their expectations are realistic.
Have Questions? Contact The Lento Law Firm
Sending your child off to college is an exciting time. To prevent college expenses from putting a damper on your experience, it's important you start preparing now. A lot of the questions you have about your situation are subjective, and cannot be resolved quickly. If you would like to learn more about your options, schedule a consultation with New Jersey family law attorney Joseph D. Lento today. You can contact him online or by phone at 888-535-3686.