Education is of central importance to any child’s future. Parents work long and hard to help save for a child’s education and make sure that they obtain the best opportunities possible. In recognition of the essential nature of a solid education for a child’s future, the New Jersey legislature has provided specific provisions to order both parents to contribute to college expenses, even after a child has graduated from high school and attained the age of eighteen. However, what about when a child has extraordinary educational expenses while still under the age of eighteen? Many parents choose to send their children to private school, and when a divorce or separation happens, parents will often want to continue the children’s education at the same institution.
Divorce can be a financially difficult time, and private school can be expensive. In many cases, the custodial parent will seek to have the non-custodial parent court-ordered to pay part or all of private school tuition in addition to regular child support payments. Except in cases where a child has special or extraordinary needs, it is not likely that a court will order a non-custodial parent to pay for private school tuition.
Another issue that arises is that of joint custody and private school. Joint legal custody provides that both parents are entitled to have input on the child’s education. After the divorce, the parents may discover that they no longer agree on which private school the child attends, or even whether the child should continue to attend such a school. If this is the case, and the parents truly cannot come to an agreement on where the child should attend school, the parties will have to return to court.
Both of these issues can be drastically changed if the parents had a settlement agreement that is incorporated into a divorce or custody order. If the parties have specifically agreed that the non-custodial parent must contribute part or all of private school tuition, the court will likely enforce the agreement. Similarly, if the parents have agreed to send the child to a particular private school, it may be difficult for a parent to set aside the provision of the agreement absent a showing that continuing to send the child to that school is somehow no longer best for the child.We have extensive experience in helping our clients with a large variety of child custody issues, including private school. Schedule a Client Vision Meeting here. We can talk about your case and your child.