A New Jersey judge recently made a father’s requirement to contribute to pay his eldest son’s college costs contingent on the son’s participation in father/child counseling. New Jersey is one of the few states that require parents to contribute to college costs.

This case, Black v. Black, which involved a father who had agreed to contribute to college costs for his three children as part of his 2010 divorce settlement. The settlement also included an agreement that the father and his oldest son would participate in father/son counseling. But, the son refused to do counseling, and as a result, when he was accepted into Rutgers, his father refused to contribute to his college costs. The son transferred to the more expensive University of Miami after his freshman year, and his father continued to refuse to pay.

In consideration of a petition filed by the mother to compel her ex-husband to contribute to college costs, the court analyzed the factors in Newburgh v. Arrigo, the seminal New Jersey case on college costs. One of the Newburgh factors is the child/parent relationship. Other factors include the availability of less expensive colleges and the child’s educational needs.

Applying the Newburgh factors to the Black case, the court held that the father was required to contribute to the college costs, but this requirement was contingent on the son’s attendance at a minimum of five father/child counseling sessions. The court ordered the parents to contribute $7,500 per year for all three children’s costs, apportioned 55% to father and 45% to mother.

If you or a family member has any questions about this requirement, please contact the dedicated family law attorneys at Petrelli Law.