GAC v. GAC
One issue that usually becomes an issue as children get older is the issue of college contribution. This issue will affect those who are in the process of divorcing, those who are already divorced, and those who were never married, but have children together. Ordinary child support, in most circumstances, does not cover the costs associated with sending a child to college.
The seminal case involving the payment of college expenses is Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982). Within this case, the Court delineated 12 different factors: (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 parents; (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 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.
Stemming from this case was a line of cases that addressed college contribution for the parent of alternate residence (the parent who does not have primary custody). The Court, in Gac v. Gac, 186, N.J. 535 (2006), discussed a situation wherein the parent of alternate residence did not have to contribute to college. The rationale for this decision was based upon the underlying facts of that specific case. In Gac, during the college selection process, the child did not involve the parent in any way. On financial aid applications, the child noted that the parent was not part of her life and was not assisting the child through college. The request for contribution was made after the child graduated from college. The Court balanced all of these facts within the factors of Newburgh and determined that, while it is not a common decision, with these specific facts, college contribution is not required.