Parents of college-bound children, take note: The law in New Jersey requires all divorced parents to contribute to their children’s college educations. Although there are a number of factors that are considered in determining what the appropriate amount of the contribution should be for each parent, the truth remains that your children’s educational expenses should always be something to keep in mind while you are negotiating your settlement.
If your children are relatively young when you are going through your divorce, you likely do not want to obligate yourself to a certain amount – or percentage – at the time of your divorce. After all, you have no idea what might happen to you or your career between now and then. You could become disabled and therefore unable to work, or you may win the billion-dollar Mega Millions lottery jackpot and be able to afford college tuition for your kids and 1,000 of their closest friends. You simply cannot predict the future. Generally, in this situation, your settlement agreement will simply acknowledge the obligation to contribute and will set a time to address it in the future based on your then-current income and assets.
If your children are in high school at the time of your divorce, it may benefit you to address the exact determination of contributions now. The years will pass quickly, and it may be financially to your benefit to address it while you are already paying counsel fees to your attorney. This may also be beneficial because in the event there are sufficient assets, you might decide that you will dedicate an asset to college expenses rather than dividing it in equitable distribution. For example, the firm recently had a case whereby the parties had an investment account valued at approximately $250,000. The parties decided that they would use that account to pay their son’s college tuition and that any remaining money would then go to him upon his college graduation. Under the law, they were each entitled to a share of that account. However, they determined it was in everyone’s best interest to dedicate the entirety to their son’s education and future.
If you have questions about how college expenses should be apportioned, contact DeTorres & DeGeorge to schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your matter.