Recently, I addressed the question as to when a child is emancipated under the eyes of New Jersey law. As I indicated there, the New Jersey Supreme Court defines emancipation as "the act by which a parent relinquishes the right to custody and is relieved of the duty to support a child." Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982). A related question also addressed by the Court in Newburgh is a parent’s obligation to contribute towards a child’s postgraduate education expenses.
The Supreme Court in Newburgh set forth a non-exhaustive list of factors for a court to consider in determining a parent’s obligation to contribute to such educational expenses. These factors were subsequently codified by statute at N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a) as follows:
1. Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education.
2. The effect of the background, values, and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for 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 to 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 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.
12. The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child.