Parental obligations highlighted in New Jersey family law case

Disagreements over financial support for a child are not new for Hackensack parents. It’s not common to hear about cases when children dispute what they feel parents owe them. Child support provisions can be built into divorce agreements, stating how much money noncustodial parents are expected to contribute toward children’s higher education. According to Reuters, past rulings in New Jersey courts have obligated divorced parents to at least partially fund a child’s college education. The issue has come to a head in a case involving a 18-year-old student who took her divorced parents to court over the payment of college tuition. In other states, the young woman would be considered fully emancipated at 18, the age of majority, and responsible for her own financial affairs. However, in New Jersey, tuition can be an exception. The case was filed in 2013, the same year the student voluntarily moved out of her home. The young woman returned to her mother’s house when the community college student lost an internship opportunity over an underage drinking violation. The student left after her mother imposed rules that included a curfew. The student moved in with her grandparents, who are funding the legal claim against the young woman’s parents. A Superior Court judge recently ruled the divorced parents were on the hook for a $906 community college bill and an additional $16,000, a partial tuition payment Temple University where the adult child is now a student. The parents feel they have been unfairly targeted because they’re divorced. Married parents are not bound by law to pay children’s college bills. An attorney for the daughter noted the student was asking her parents to pay only a portion of the annual $26,000 Temple University tuition. The case points to the importance of anticipating the financial needs of children during a divorce, an issue that New Jersey attorneys can help parents address. Source: South Jersey Times, “Father of Temple University student who sued for tuition speaks out” Andy Polhamus, Dec. 11, 2014

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