College Tuition and Child Support

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jun 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

If you're co-parenting in New Jersey and don't have primary physical custody, you're undoubtedly paying child support. While most parents are happy to ensure their kids have the support they need, you're probably also wondering when does support end? What happens if your child is over 18 but in college? What kind of obligation do you have for financial support after 18?

Does Child Support End at 18?

We all know about the magical age of 18 when your child becomes an adult, can enter into contracts on their own, and can go off into the world without the power of your parental signature. Typically, if you're paying child support in New Jersey, it will end at age 18 or when your child graduates from high school, whichever happens last. At this point, New Jersey law presumes that your child is emancipated:

"[E]very person 18 or more years of age shall in all other matters and for all other purposes be deemed to be an adult and, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, shall have the same legal capacity to act and the same powers and obligations as a person 21 or more years of age." N.J.S.A. § 9:17B-3 (2013).

When your child graduates from high school or reaches 18, you can apply to terminate child support if they are no longer a full-time student.

Do I Have to Continue Child Support for College Kids?

The answer is yes. If your child remains a full-time student because they're in college or a trade school or can't live independently because of a disability or other reason, New Jersey law won't consider them emancipated. You will need to continue child support until the age of 23 as long as your child is in school full-time. 

Do I Have to Pay for College as Part of Child Support?

The answer is maybe. Your New Jersey Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) will often cover the allocation of tuition between you and your co-parent. However, if your MSA doesn't cover this, the court will determine whether you must contribute to college expenses. In determining this, the court will look at:

  • Your child's ability to pay for college and expenses,
  • Your child's ability to earn income,
  • Your child's financial assets,
  • Your child's college goals,
  • The financial situation of both parents,
  • How much your child needs for college tuition and expenses,
  • How reasonable it is for your child to attend college, and
  • If either parent would be financially able to pay for college if you'd stayed together.

The goal is to ensure that no one pays more than their fair share, considering your child's goals and financial needs.  

Get Experienced Legal Advice

Whether you're in the middle of a custody dispute, trying to negotiate a marital settlement agreement, or looking ahead to the end of child support, you need experienced legal guidance. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. He's been passionately representing New Jersey families for many years. Contact the Lento Law Firm online or give them a call at 888-535-8636.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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