In a recent case Long island Divorce Attorney
Natasha Meyers was able to help her client make a very important modification to her
child support order—a change that forced her ex-husband to share in the responsibility
of paying for their daughter's college education. In the case, the
Family Court of the State of New York in Suffolk County ordered the ex-husband
of Attorney Meyers' client to pay 50% of their daughter's college
tuition and mandatory fees. Previously, the ex-husband refused to share
in the costs, stating that he was unable to afford it and that his existing
child support order did not require this type of financial assistance.
He had also complained that his ex-wife and daughter never included in
him in the choice of the college. This led to Attorney Meyers' client
filing petitions for a modification and enforcement of her child support order.
When the ex-spouses got
divorced in 2004, they did not include any stipulations concerning future college
expenses in their divorce judgment (Their children were only 8 years old
and 6 years old at the time). Nearly a decade later, in the fall of 2012,
the oldest child started applying to colleges. Of the universities she
was accepted into, she chose one that cost $36,500 a year, which included
costs for room and board. This became problematic since her mother (whom
she resided with) could not afford the expenses on her own and was rejected
for a Parent Plus loan. The daughter did secure Stafford loans, but she
did not get any scholarships or grants. Attorney Meyers' client turned
to her ex-husband for support, but he claimed that he was too financially
strapped to provide any assistance.
The family court considered both sides of the case, including the fact
that the ex-husband made $76,000 a year but also had certain financial
struggles—he was behind on mortgage payments and he was also supporting
another family, which included his current wife and their son. He was
also paying child support for the two children he had with Attorney Meyers' client.
After assessing the facts, the court decided to modify the child support
agreement. The ex-husband was ordered to pay half of his daughter's
college tuition and mandatory fees, though he was not ordered to help
pay for her room and board since that was already accounted for in his
child support payments. The court noted various factors that contributed
to the final decision. These included the parents' income levels,
the fact the daughter was already an enrolled college student when the
hearing took place, the fact that both parents had graduated from college
and the fact that they both affirmed that their daughter was capable of
benefiting from college.
When it comes down to cases such as these in New York, it is completely
up to the court to decide whether or not an award for college expenses
should be granted as a part of a child support agreement. Parents have
the option of either including the matter of college expenses in their
initial child support agreements, or to seek this financial support at
a later time. At The Meyers Law Group, P.C., we are pleased that we were
able to help this college student and her mother get the support they
Contact us to learn how our firm can help you with your family law case!