Parents’ college contribution in NJ
Recently on December 30, 2015, the Appellate Court in Laurel v. Dixon reversed and remanded to Union County trial court for a plenary hearing to undertake the separate and discreet analysis of defendant’s financial capability to make college contribution and, if so, in what amount. The Plaintiff, represented by counsel and defendant unrepresented appealed a June 24, 2014 order that denied her motion to compel defendant to: make a $5000 lump sum payment toward child support arrears; contribute toward their son’s college tuition; reimburse her $12,144.06 for one-half of their son’s tuition she previously paid; and pay her counsel fees. She also sought a lien on defendant’s retirement account to secure his support obligations. The Appellate court specifically stated that the trial court failed to articulate any of the Newburgh factors.
The outcome of the case reminds the family division trial judges that to make a determination of a parent’s ability to contribute towards college expenses a detailed analysis of the Newburgh factors is required. The Newburgh factors include:
- Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education;
- The effect of the background values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education;
- The amount of the contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education;
- The ability of the parent to pay that cost;
- The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child;
- The financial resources of both parents;
- The commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education;
- The financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust;
- The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation;
- The availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans;
- The child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance; and
- The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child.
Parents’ college contribution in NJ is dependent on the individual facts of each case and requires detailed analysis.