Does Child Support Continue When a Child Goes to College?

When Does Child Support End in New Jersey?

Most divorced/separated parents in New Jersey with minor children become familiar with the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and a parent’s obligation to pay child support on behalf of their child. In short, child support is financial support paid to the other parent to assist them with maintaining a household for a child. While child support is intended to cover a wide range of expenses associated with raising a child, future college costs are not considered part of a Guidelines-based child support amount. 

For most families, the prospect of paying for the ever-increasing cost of college these days is a daunting task. If you are a divorced or separated parent with a child headed to college, you may be wondering, “Does child support continue when a child goes to college?” and, “Will I be required to contribute toward their education as well?” The attorneys at the Law Office of Blake W. Rush have the answer for you:

Understanding New Jersey Child Support College Laws

A child support obligation continues until that child is emancipated. Under New Jersey law, a child is not automatically emancipated upon turning 18 years old and child support continues until the age of 19, but can be extended to the age of 23 if specific criteria are met, including your child attending college. 

While child support often continues while a child is attending college, parents may also be responsible for paying a portion of their child’s college education costs. However, once contribution toward a child’s college costs is considered, the obligation to pay child support may shift depending on the costs involved, the financial needs of the child, and the financial circumstances of the parents. A parent may be obligated to pay child support and not compelled to contribute to college, or be called upon to contribute to college and not pay child support, or do both.

Determining Parental Responsibility For College Payments in New Jersey

The leading case regarding a parents’ responsibility toward a child’s college expenses was decided in Newburgh v. Arrigo, where the New Jersey Supreme Court held that “the privilege of parenthood carries with it a duty to assure a necessary education”. The Newburgh decision then set forth several factors that a Court must consider in determining a parent’s college contribution following a divorce/separation, including:

  • Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested 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 financial resources of both parents and the child.
  • The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child.
  • The commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education.
  • 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.

Like other child support payments, the Courts consider a child’s financial needs and goals while also ensuring that the parent doesn’t pay more than what is reasonable and fair under the circumstances. 

Contact our office today for a consultation with our expert child support lawyer!

For all areas of family law, including child support payments, our expert attorneys are here to help. Here at the Law Office of Blake W. Rush, we represent clients in custody matters throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  

Give us a call at (903) 713-9800 or visit our website to contact us and learn more about how we can help you.