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Divorced New Jersey parents must pay child's college tuition

A New Jersey judge has ordered the divorced parents of a 21-year-old daughter to pay a portion of her tuition at an out-of-state college, even though they say she is estranged from them. The court ordered them to pay $16,000 of her Temple University bill this year and to pay her future tuition.

The daughter, who has been living with her paternal grandparents for two years, sued her parents for college funds in the spring, claiming they have refused to pay for her education. According to her parents, however, the 2012 Washington Township High School graduate had previously agreed to live with her mother and attend Gloucester County College, but moved out after only one semester after disagreements over underage drinking and curfews. They claim they cannot afford out-of-state tuition.

When ruling in the daughter's favor, the judge cited Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, which was a landmark 1982 ruling by the state's Supreme Court stating that divorced parents must provide funding for the college education of their child. The parents, who divorced in 1997, have appealed the decision, claiming that married parents are not forced to pay for tuition they cannot afford. Since the ruling, two state lawmakers have begun work on legislation that would bar courts from treating married and divorced parents differently in college tuition cases. The bill is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.

Parents who are going through the divorce process may wish to consult with a family law attorney to develop a parenting plan that addresses key childcare issues such as education going forward. A clear plan for child support and the funding of a child's education could help avoid disputes in the future.

Source: NJ.com, "Divorced N.J. parents ordered to pay for estranged daughter's college tuition," Jeff Goldman, Dec. 13, 2014

Source: Philly.com, "Lawmakers may take up college tuition issue ", Geoff Mulvihill, December 14, 2014

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