Court requires divorced dad to pay daughter’s tuition

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

Some Illinois residents who were following a divorce settlement case in New Jersey may be interested to learn that the father’s appeal has been declined by the appellate court. This decision affirms that of the original trial court, which ruled that the father in this case would be obligated to pay $112,500 for his daughter to attend Cornell Law School. According to the terms of the original divorce agreement he signed with the mother, both parents would be responsible for paying half of their daughter’s tuition expenses. However, when the father learned where his daughter intended to go to school and how much it would cost him, he refused to pay the required amount.

Despite the father offering to pay for his daughter to attend Rutgers Law School instead of Cornell, the court ruled that he had reneged on the agreement, which it elected to treat as a binding legal document. The court’s ruling affirms not only the merits of the decision itself, but also the logic by which it was reached. This means that settlements approved by a divorce court may be considered, at least in some courtrooms, contracts that require some showing of cause to revise. Since the father was presumably unable to demonstrate that his daughter’s decision to attend Cornell would excessively burden him, the court refused to allow him to amend the agreement he’d made with her mother.

This case highlights a common occurrence within the divorce court system. In the event of a dispute between one of the involved parties in the future, courts may be quite reticent to act in a way contrary to their settlement.

For this reason, it may be all the more important for divorcing parties to reach a settlement that is mutually satisfactory. Mediation may allow some couples to better voice their concerns and avoid feeling as though their interests have been disregarded.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Settlements and Higher Education“, Brad Reid, March 13, 2014