Heymann & Fletcher

Should college tuition be included in child support discussions?

As a New Jersey family prepares for divorce, a number of financial matters will need to be taken into consideration. That includes current expenses as well as anticipated costs. For many parents, earning a college degree is a goal that both parties share for their children. Financing a college education is often a top priority, though one that is easily overlooked during divorce negotiations. It is important to address these expenses during child support and property division discussions.

In most cases, a child will reach the age of 18 before or shortly after beginning his or her college education. Technically, neither parent has an obligation to provide financial support beyond the age of maturity. In practice, however, most parents want to support their child both emotionally and financially during his or her college years.

Outlining those plans in writing is the best way to avoid nasty surprises or unpleasant disputes in the years to come. Parties can agree on a dollar amount that will be contributed toward a child's education, or a plan for securing loans or other sources of financing to pay tuition. Each family can create an agreement that is in line with their particular set of needs.

Without having an agreement in place at the time of divorce, New Jersey parents risk a scenario in which only one party comes through on supporting the child during his or her college years. That is an unfair burden to place on one parent and is an outcome that should be avoided whenever possible. Discussing this matter early in the divorce process alongside property division and child support issues allows both parents to plan for the future, and it eliminates the risk of an unpleasant surprise down the road.

Source: thestreet.com, "Ask These 5 Questions Before Signing Off on a Client's Divorce Settlement", Brian O'Connell, Aug. 11, 2017

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