In a new published (precedential) decision, Ricci v. Ricci, the Appellate Division addressed an adult child’s (an oxymoron, I know) request for her divorced parents to contribute to her college education expenses. Going  back to basics, the Appellate Division reminded us that – before any determination about a divorced parent’s obligation to contribute to

Signed into law on January 19, 2016, New Jersey’s emancipation law is set to take effect on February 1, 2017 and will apply to all child support orders issued prior to or after its effective date.

37774117 - definition of word emancipation in dictionary

One of the highlights of the new law is that it will dramatically impact when and how child support

On Tuesday, January 19th, Governor Christie took a break from his busy presidential campaign to sign several new pieces of pending legislation, one of which was New Jersey’s pending emancipation statute that impacts upon child support and when/how it terminates.  The new law, which takes effect 180 days after its signing, is applicable to all

In the return of our New Jersey Family Law Podcast Series, we are proud to present our fifth installment discussing child support and emancipation.  This has been a hot topic in recent months, especially following the Rachel Canning lawsuit from earlier this year.  Enjoy!

Listen to the Podcast and download the transcript here.

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Emancipation of a college student – when does it happen?  When should it happen?  In the wake of the Rachel Canning matter, emancipation is a hot button topic in New Jersey.  Generally, the law provides that a child is emancipated when he or she is no longer within the parental “sphere of influence and responsibility.” 

It seems with greater frequency, a divorced parent will argue that he should not have to pay for a child’s college (a New Jersey requirement) because he has a poor relationship with the child and, relatedly, had no say in the education decision making process (i.e., what college, at what cost, etc.).  Since a parent’s

The number of college graduates living with their parents has almost doubled since 2007. Currently, over 45% of 26-year-olds live at home with their parents. The figures highlight the difficulty that many young Americans have had in establishing careers following the longest recession this country has faced since the Great Depression. Some children, although employed,

When there is a hostile relationship or a non-existent relationship between a child and a non-custodial parent, there is a possibility that the non-custodial parent may be relieved of the obligation to contribute towards college expenses.  In my prior blog, I discussed the impact of college financial support when the child won’t speak with the non-custodial parent.

After the blog was posted, many asked me whether or not a deteriorated relationship between a child and a non-custodial parent could result in the termination of the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation. The answer is almost always NO the child support obligation will not be terminated even if the child refuses to have a relationship with the non-custodial parent.  (Note, however, where a custodial parent encourages such a circumstance or is the cause of the circumstance, continued custody of the custodial parent may be significantly impacted.)

Strictly for child support purposes, if the child has not moved “beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility” of the custodial parent and has not obtained “an independent status of his or her own”, the child would not be emancipated and the non-custodial parent would continue to have a duty of child support.  Under this inquiry, unless the child is a celebrity and making their own appreciable amount of income, clearly any child under the age of eighteen and/or still a high school student will have not achieved an independent status.  Therefore, if the child and non-custodial parent never see each other, never speak or the relationship is hostile, the non-custodial parent still has a duty to support that child.


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An often addressed issue between divorcing parents is who is going to pay for the children’s college education and related expenses, and in what proportion.  When the issue is litigated, a court will generally look to the twelve factors enunciated in the Supreme Court’s 1982 Opinion of Newburgh v. Arrigo.  Resolutions between parties may include a number of possibilities, including dividing the costs in proportion to the parents’ respective incomes, abiding the event, etc.  Settlement agreements also typically contain language requiring the child to apply for scholarships, grants, loans and other forms of financial aid to stem the blow.  College funds or other types of savings accounts might have been established for the children that are to be applied before any additional financial obligation befalls on the parents. Each of these different mechanisms is designed to protect the children, ensure proper education, while also considering the parent’s financial circumstances as well, which are often altered following a divorce due to additional expenses, new families, legal fee debt and the like.

The next question, forming the basis of this blog post, is what obligation do parents have to contribute to graduate school?  Does a parent have an obligation to pay for a child’s law school tuition?  How about medical school?  This infrequently addressed issue in the court system was recently taken on by the Appellate Division in Schambach v. Schambach, a very interesting decision containing an analysis in a concurrence/dissent that merits in-depth discussion.


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