Red Bank, NJ asked in Child Support, Divorce and Family Law for New Jersey

Q: How to continue child support for child who will transfer from Community College to College?

My daughter finishes community college next month; she will finish her Associates Degree course and will try to finish the last two years after she transfer to a four year college; My daughter has always been a A student, her GPA has always been high and is 3.9 right now; she is part of the Honors Program/Phi Theta Kapha and she has been included in the deans list several times; she worked really hard; I have been giving my ex-husband all the information I have and will give more details as I learn about them. He knows I have always been realistic about college costs and act accordingly. Child support is supposed to stop at the end of May; what must I do to continue receiving child support for her until she finishes college? Do I need a lawyer or I could do this myself? What do I need to do exactly? When should I start the process? The colleges have not replied yet so we don’t have a proof of anything yet. Do I send the court a motion right now? Once again, thank you very much.

1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Diamond
Richard Diamond
  • Millburn, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: You are mixing apples with pineapples so hopefully we can sort out a few items in this discussion. The law in NJ presumes that a child is emancipated upon graduation from high school BUT if a child goes on to college, 99.9999975% of the family law judges in this state are of the opinion that parents should contribute to the child's college costs and assist with the payment of direct support. Here is where the issue gets a little tricky.

The starting point is the language of your settlement agreement or the judgement of divorce as to college and emancipation.

My suggestion is that you send your ex an email immediately notifying him of your daughters desire to continue with her college education and I would detail every school that she has applied to, plans to apply to, the anticipated total cost of the colleges being considered, the grants, loans and scholarships being sought for her attendance and what her current GPA is, course of study has been and what her anticipated course of study will be at a 4 year school. I would also let him know exactly how many credits she anticipates will transfer from her current school to the school[s] sought so that it is clear as to what will be the time frame for her completion of her 4 year program. Do not wait on this email. It must be sent immediately and you must ensure that he is afforded the opportunity to participate in the process. If you dont send it or take the view that he has never cared about the process, so there is no reason to do so, then presume that you are only hurting your chances of getting a judge to impose an obligation upon him. Most objections to contribution to college costs are based on a claim that he was not included in the process and simply handed a bill after the selection process was already determined. Whether he decides to participate or not in the process is not the issue. He must be afforded the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way. If your daughter has been diligent in her studies and pursuing her education on a full time basis, her grades are solid and is looking to transfer to a 4 year program for a real course of study (ie nursing, bio-engineering, accounting, education, etc) it will be looked upon much more favorably than a child who has a C---- grade point average and wants to transfer to a 4 year program but has no clue what she plans to do with the degree that she will obtain. Also, if she is planning to go to a 4 year program, she cannot make the decision as to the school selection without sitting down with you and her father to discuss the cost and whether she will also have "skin in the game" as to repayment of the obligations as well. Today, most parents cannot simply write checks to cover the cost of private universities and applications for all available grants, loans etc will go a long way in the eyes of a judge deciding whether to impose an obligation upon the other parent. Start off with a discussion on the college costs first and based on everyone's contribution to those costs, then a determination can be made as to whether a direct child support payment also is applicable ( based on how often she will be home, etc).

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