What is the current status of NJ law regarding an 18 year old child who (just graduated & ignored the "Stars Program ... state paid tuition) and has emancupated/estranged themselves for over 1 year from the father? ANSWER:
The current status of NJ law is that a divorced parent does not have any support obligation for a 18 year old child who emancipated/estranged herself for over 1 year from the father, PROVIDED that the child’s emancipation
has been declared by the court. Emancipation also occurs upon the child’s marriage or entry into the military service. The facts of each case will control when a child is emancipated.
If you are paying child support and/or college expenses, you should not expect that these obligations will automatically end. In order to be legally free of your child support obligations based on the child’s emancipation, the best course of action for the parent is to file a request with the court asking asking that the child be declared emancipated.
New Jersey caselaw holds that the emancipation of a child occurs when the fundamental dependant relationship between parent and child is terminated. When a child “moves beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and obtains an independent status on his or her own, generally he or she will be deemed emancipated.” Bishop v. Bishop, 287 N.J. Super, 593, 598, 671 A.2d 644 (1995).
When a family court judge enters an emancipation order will you no longer be required to pay child support. If you simply stop paying support on your child's 18th birthday, but don't go through the legal process of emancipation, you can end up owing tens of thousands of dollars in child support. Not a good idea. YOUR QUESTION:
What if any obligation does the father have for (other) college tuition support and/or continued child support due to the mother (who has refused to enforce any positive father/daugher relationship) for years? ANSWER:
If the child is emancipated, the father would not have any obligation for (other) college tuition support and/or continued child support due to the mother who has refused to enforce any positive father/daugher relationship for years. YOUR QUESTION:
Please clarify ... as the noncustodial parent am I obligated to continue monthly child support payments ... and/or/plus the childs decided other college choice school costing $30K P/A ... when $16K was left on the table ignoring the "STARS" free tuition option ... what are my options? ANSWER:
If the child is not emancipated, the parental suppport obligation for college costs will continue. The controlling factors are discussed hereinbelow. If you are not satisfied with the existing situation, your option is to file a motion with the court asking the court to rearrange the financial obligations so as to make the situation more to your liking. The main thing to NOT do is try to take matters into your own hands, without court approval. FURTHER DISCUSSION:
New Jersey is in the minority of states that require divorced and unmarried parents to contribute to at least a portion of their children’s educational expenses. Many scholarly articles and oral arguments have been made concerning the unfairness of this requirement because married parents have no legal obligation to support their children through college. However, the notion of a divorced or unmarried parent’s contribution seems heavily embedded in our law and a change does not seem to be on the horizon. As a parent of a college-aged child, it is important that you understand the law surrounding this obligation.
In Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 NJ 529, 443 A2d 1031(1982), the New Jersey Supreme Court directly addressed the issue of divorced parents’ liability for post-secondary educational costs for their unemancipated children and delineated the specific criteria to be considered in determining whether parents are legally obligated to fund higher education expenses:
1 - Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education;
2 - The effect of the background, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education;
3 - The amount of the contribution sought by the child for higher education;
4 - The ability of the parent to pay that cost;
5 - The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child;
6 - The financial resources of both parents;
7 - The commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education;
8 - The financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust;
9 - The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation;
10 - The availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans;
11 - The child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance;
12 - The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child; and
Subsequent courts have consistently followed the Newburgh factors when examining whether to order non-custodial parents to pay higher education costs. See Gac v. Gac, 186 N.J. 535, 545-46, 897 A.2d 1018 (2006) (reaffirming and applying the Newburgh factors).
Online at: http://lawlibrary.rutgers.edu/courts/supreme/a-9-05.opn.html
See also Foust v. Glaser, 340 N.J. Super. 312, 316 (App. Div. 2001) (approving trial court's focus on Newburgh factors); Keegan v. Keegan, 326 N.J. Super. 289, 295 (App. Div. 1999) (agreeing with the trial court's application of the facts to the factors enumerated in Newburgh); Raynor v. Raynor, 319 N.J. Super. 591, 616 (App. Div. 1999) (applying Newburgh factors); Hudson v. Hudson, 315 N.J. Super. 577, 582 (App. Div. 1998) (utilizing Newburgh factors to evaluate college contribution claim); Moss v. Nedas, 289 N.J. Super. 352, 356 (App. Div. 1996) (performing a full review of all of the factors enumerated in Newburgh); Blum v. Ader, 279 N.J. Super. 1, 4 (App. Div. 1994) (recognizing support obligation includes the right to college expenses under circumstances set forth in Newburgh); Martinetti v. Hickman, 261 N.J. Super. 508, 512 (App. Div. 1993) (noting the tests of Newburgh are to be applied where a contribution toward the direct costs of higher education is sought). Enrico v. Goldsmith, 237 N.J. Super. 572, 576 (App. Div. 1990) (directing trial court to explore the factors identified in Newburgh); Johnson v. Bradbury, 233 N.J. Super. 129, 136 (App. Div. 1989) (holding Newburgh criteria must be carefully applied by the trial court in light of a wide range of relevant facts and circumstances); Weitzman v. Weitzman, 228 N.J. Super. 346, 357 (App. Div. 1988) (directing application of Newburgh factors on remand), certif. denied, 114 N.J. 505 (1989).
The “Newburgh factors” continued to apply in New Jersey and continue to be frequently cited in the New Jersey appellate court decisions. See, for example, Cruz-Chase v. Dejesus, decided on March 12, 2008, by the Superior Court, Appellate Division.
Online at: http://lawlibrary.rutgers.edu/courts/appellate/a3864-06.opn.html
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