Divorce or Support Award of College Expenses…Premature

 balduf_lawLast month the New York State Appellate Division (Second Dept) rendered a decision in Repetti v. Repett which reminded us that the Court may direct a parent to contribute to a child’s college expenses, however, when college is several years away, and no evidence is presented as to the child’s academic interests, ability, possible choice of college or what his or her expenses might be, a directive compelling a parent to pay for college expenses is premature and not supported by the evidence.  This is not a new determination.  Yet it is often difficult to apply with many Courts.

It is important to have clear and specific conversations about what, if anything will go into your settlement agreement or support order, regarding college expenses for children.  Not addressing this property has lasting consequences.  Why is this important?

In some jurisdictions Courts order parents to pay thousands of dollars in college expenses even when they don’t have retirements for themselves or the income to support this.  There is no set formula for determining college expenses.  In some counties where these cases are heard the amount of contribution from each parent would differ not because of the circumstances of their case or the law–but simply because it is heard by different judges or support magistrates.

I can’t stress enough that parties should have the assistance of experienced attorneys who know the law and the specific tendencies of each court. BEWARE: Logic is not your friend and too many people go into court and believe because it doesn’t make sense or is outside their budget they won’t be stuck paying.