Divorcing couples often assume that any child support obligations end once the child turns 18 but that’s not necessarily true.New Jersey law doesn’t automatically emancipate according to age. Rather the law considers when a child is no longer financially dependent on the parents. To a divorced couple this means that the parent providing child support may have to continue paying expenses while the child is in college or even graduate school.
On the other hand the amount of support will probably change with the child’s situation. If the parents can’t reach an agreement then they will have to go to court, each with a Case Information Statement in hand, and let a judge decide what is fair. Unlike traditional child support, college generally means that both parents will be paying and the amount assigned to each will depend on their respective financial statuses.
If a child is going to an Ivy League school, that doesn’t mean a struggling parent will have Ivy League expenses.New Jersey family law attorneys talk about the “Rutgers Rule” established in the case of Nebel v. Nebel in 1968. The judge decreed that the father’s obligation would be limited to the expenses of attending a quality state college like Rutger seven if the mother wanted to send the child to a more expensive private university.
A parent might not be required to pay if the parent has become estranged from the child through the child’s own actions. It’s not uncommon for a child who has cut off the non-custodial parent socially to suddenly demand that parent pay college expenses.New Jersey courts have established that estranged parents are not responsible for higher education costs, though the estrangement can be difficult to prove.
College should not come as a surprise. Divorcing couples should include a provision in the divorce decree covering each party’s responsibility for future education, even if the children are very young. If the parents’ situations change before the children reach college age, then a new NJ CIS form will reflect that and the court can modify the original agreement.
We leave you with one last piece of advice. If parents provide conflicting information, either on the New Jersey CIS or on information sent to the university, then aid-granting agencies are likely to reject the student’s application outright. This increases the burden on both parents as well as the student. Work things out ahead of time so there will be no conflict or confusion during the university years.
Easysoft’s NJ Case Information Statement software allows family law attorneys to save and update the forms as needed, even years after the fact. A child who is a newborn the time of divorce might need updated CIS information twenty or more years after the divorce. Keep the information safe and accessible with Easysoft legal practice management software.