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To learn about whether or not you will be held responsible to pay your child’s college tuition after your divorce, continue reading and reach out to our Monmouth County divorce & separation attorneys today.

What are New Jersey’s child emancipation law changes?

Beginning in February of 2017, a new law was enacted to provide more clarity on the emancipation laws. In New Jersey, a child is automatically considered emancipated upon the child’s nineteenth birthday unless:

  • The child is still in high school, attends a vocational or technical school, or is enrolled full-time in a college undergraduate or graduate program.
  • The child suffers from a documented mental or physical disability that demands continuous support.
  • An existing child support order sets a certain age or cut-off date.

How do New Jersey courts determine parent college tuition responsibilities?

Most divorce settlement agreements contain some language that addresses college decisions and payments and most say that both parents have some kind of financial responsibility to pay for college. College tuition obligations are entirely separate from child support.

The same amount that a parent will be mandated to pay towards their child’s college tuition is usually calculated at the time a college is selected and is based upon both parents’ salaries at that time. It is important to note that it is never a good idea to agree to a straight 50/50 split of college tuition at the time of divorce, particularly if your children are at a young age. This is because you may not know your financial future.

In some cases, parents may be able to reach a compromise over college cost-sharing on their own out of court, typically with the help of their attorneys or a mediator. When college tuition matters end up in court, a judge will consider a parent’s contribution toward the cost of higher education by considering a number of different factors, including:

  1. The effect of the background, values, and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education;
  2. Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education;
  3. The amount of the contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education;
  4. The ability of the parent to pay that cost;
  5. The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child;
  6. The financial resources of both parties;
  7. The commitment and aptitude of the child for the requested education;
  8. The financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust;
  9. The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation;
  10. The availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans;
  11. The child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance; and
  12. The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child.


If you require strong legal representation for matters of divorce and family law in Rumson, Monmouth County, or anywhere in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.