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Enforcing Payments for College Education


Despite the economic setbacks that have impacted so many Americans' lives in recent years, college costs and tuition continue to rise. While millions of Americans have suffered from job losses and foreclosures which drove them into bankruptcy, if you live in Suffolk or Nassau County or anywhere else in the state of New York, you may be surprised to discover that your legal responsibility to pay child support may extend to college tuition and expenses in part or in whole under DRL 240 1-b(c)(7).

Under DRL 240 1-b(c)(7), having regard for the circumstances of a case and the respective parties and the best interests of the child, and as justice requires, the court may present a current or future provision for college tuition and expenses; therefore, the court may order that the non-custodial parent pay educational expenses as awarded in a manner that is determined by the court and which may include direct payment to the child's educational provider.

In the Domestic Relations Law 240 1-b (c)(7), the courts are given the authority to direct a parent to contribute to a child's college education, even in the absence of a voluntary agreement. Since New York State views children of divorce as disadvantaged, and since the state believes that they don't have the same financial advantages of otherwise intact families, children of divorce are considered to be in a special class. As such, the state contends that the lawful requirement that non-custodial parents pay their children's college expenses and costs serve the legitimate government purpose of educating New York's youth.

Whether your ex-spouse voluntarily agreed to pay for your child's college tuition and expenses or if a family court awarded such a provision, court orders are expected to be adhered to. When the non-custodial parent fails to comply with the court's order to pay for college tuition and related expenses, the non-breaching party can seek enforcement of the court order through the court system. Unfortunately, the non-complying party may have experienced a job loss or a change in circumstances, but that doesn't absolve him or her from their legal obligation to comply with the court's order.

At the Rubenfeld Law Firm, our legal team has more than 70 years of experience serving Suffolk and Nassau County with their divorce and post-divorce proceedings. Whether your ex has failed to comply with the court order and pay for your child's college expenses, or if you are the non-custodial parent who is having difficulty complying with the standing court order, we can help. Whenever there is a problem with complying with a court order from either end, there is a legal solution that can remedy the situation. From an enforcement point of view, the court may hold the breaching party in "contempt" and may impose sanctions including jail time. On the other hand, if the non-custodial parent is financially unable to pay for his or her child's college education, a modification may be in order.

Contact a Suffolk County divorce attorney if there is a concern regarding a court order for your child's educational expenses.

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