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NJ Court Examines Father’s Duty to Pay College Expenses

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The New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed an order requiring a father to contribute to his children’s college expenses, though it also remanded the case back to the trial court to decide the amount of the required contribution.

The name of the case was Fletcher v. Euston. In its opinion, the Appellate Division evaluated the trial court’s consideration of the Newburgh factors. In the Newburgh case, decided in 1982, the New Jersey Supreme Court listed a number of factors that courts should consider in deciding whether and how much a parent should be required to contribute to his children’s college costs. These factors addressed, among other things, the parent’s and child’s abilities to pay, whether the parent had previously discussed college with the child, and whether college was appropriate given the child’s long term goals.

Here, the Appellate Division held that the father had to contribute to his children’s college expenses because he and his ex-wife had agreed in their property settlement agreement that they would share college expenses after the children had applied for all available student loans, scholarships and grants. The court also found that the children were qualified to attend college and received an appropriate education there.

However, the court remanded the case to the trial court for a further examination of the relationship between the father and the children and whether the children and/or their mother had made an effort to discuss college expenses with him before the children started college. The court held that these factors would affect the amount of the father’s contribution towards college expenses.

New Jersey law often requires parents to support their children’s post-secondary education. If you need help determining your post-secondary obligations, please contact the devoted family law attorneys at Petrelli Previtera.

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