Should Parents Be Forced To Pay For College

college tuitionAn important case is currently playing out in New Jersey that is raising questions as to whether a young adult is entitled to college support from his or her parents.

Curiously, as the law in New Jersey and many other states currently stands, married parents aren’t required to pay for any of their children’s college costs once they reach the age of majority. Divorced parents, or parents that never married, however, are.

The case in question is that of 21-year-old Caitlyn Ricci. In October, a New Jersey Family Court judge ruled that Caitlyn Ricci’s parents, Michael Ricci and Maura McGarvey, must pay $16,000 of their daughter’s $26,000 annual college expenses. The judge cited Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982). In that case, the state Supreme Court ruled that divorced parents are responsible for paying for their child’s college education.

According to an article Michael Ricci wrote on Wednesday for Yahoo Parenting, Caitlyn Ricci was kicked out of a Disney internship for underage drinking. He says his daughter then became upset when he and McGarvey set ground rules that included chores and a curfew. In February 2013, Caitlyn Ricci left to live with her paternal grandparents, who have helped fund her lawsuit against her parents.

(Note: Caitlyn Ricci’s lawyer, Andrew Rochester, told Yahoo Parenting that her parents made it clear they were unwilling to pay for any of her college education.)

New Jersey law currently requires Michael Ricci and Maura McGarvey, who say they haven’t spoken to their daughter outside of court in two years, to not only cover a portion of their daughter’s college costs, but to pay for those costs at whatever school their daughter chooses. Caitlyn Ricci currently attends Temple University, which is located in Philadelphia, so her parents are on the hook for more expensive out-of-state tuition.

So what is the justification for forcing divorced parents to take on these costs while married parents are in the clear? As explained in this Slate.com article, the issue actually dates back to when the 26th Amendment was ratified in 1971, lowering the voting age to 18. The law was ratified in just three months, meaning legislators probably didn’t put much thought into its impact on parental obligations.

As the number of 18- to 24-year-olds heading off to college exploded from 1970 to 2010, kids of intact families no longer had any right to college support once they reached the age of majority.

But why the double standard for divorced parents?

The justification for making a distinction between divorced and intact families is that, statistically, divorce leads to disengagement between parents and their kids, which then leads to fewer divorced parents chipping in to support their sons and daughters through college.

The argument is one of age of majority vs. age of emancipation. The contention coming from Caitlyn Ricci’s camp is that the age of majority doesn’t necessitate emancipation.

The case appears far from over. Last week, Caitlyn Ricci returned to court to sue her parents for failing to pay $906 of tuition she claims they owe her for tuition from a semester she previously spent at Rowan College at Gloucester County.

Her parents, who divorced in 1997 and have both remarried and have younger children, don’t appear to be budging. Although they have agreed to pay the $906 amount, the tuition owed from Temple is a different story.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, attorneys for both sides met privately with a judge last Monday and again failed to reach an agreement.

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Shawn Garrison is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell & Cordell UK. He has written countless pieces dealing with the unique child custody and divorce issues that men and fathers face. Through his work on CordellCordell.com, CordellCordell.co.uk, and DadsDivorce.com, Mr. Garrison has become an authority on the complexities of the legal experience and was a content creator for the YouTube series “Dad’s Divorce Live” and additional videos on both the Dad’s Divorce and Cordell & Cordell YouTube channels. Mr. Garrison has managed the sites of these customers, and fostered the creation of several of their features, including the Cordell & Cordell attorney and office pages, the Dad’s Divorce Newsletter, and the Cordell & Cordell newsletter.

3 comments on “Should Parents Be Forced To Pay For College

    Interesting. Now these “kids” (I like a good oxymoron) have the right of extortion. If they force married people to pay, lets see what uproar follows about fairness

    The judges do this because of the Title 4-D money for their salaries/pension match from the Federal goverment. The more money they can get legally extort from a divorce, the bigger their bonuses will be. College pay and child support is all about money for the courts. The courts dont care about kids, but pretend they care about kids.

    Its all about money for POS judges. The most digusting scam on Earth next to alimony

    If a child reaches adulthood, there should be no legal obligation to that person by the parent.
    Now the State permits adult children to sue their parents for payment of their social services.
    Maybe this is the States’ attempts to avoid having to fund tuitions with grants or other welfare?

    Talk about the State putting another wedge into and between family relations.
    Giving the right of the child to sue the parents, after the child has reached adulthood.
    Now, not only will husband and wife (or coresident civil unions) be always looking at each other with suspicion and legal preparation against each other, now the State will make the parents look upon their children as a potential legal adversary and source of suspicion.
    This is exactly what Marxism had in mind for the Family, tear it apart and make it dependent upon the State.

    The system sucks
    Luckily KS does not require you to pay for college when divorce.

    Why should laws work so that it would be to the benefit of the children if parents are divorced.

    I agree that divorce makes it harder for parents to chip in towards school.

    But I was nevrr going to pay for my kids college. If I had the money I would. I most certainly would not have the money now.

    I love my children, but I do not owe them a college education. The government needs to keep its busy body nose out of this kind of stuff.

    Now we are required to keep our kids on our insurance until they are 25 or 26… What if they get a good job, am I still required so they can save some money and go on nice trips or by a new Phone very 6 months to a year?

    Now I plan to keep my kids on my insurance as long as they need it, but if they are going to be on my insurance I should be allowed to deduct them from my taxes even when they no longer live with me. That will never happen.

    Basically we are building a weaker generation of adults that do not know how to take care of themselves, let alone the nation when they come of age.

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