Can a Divorced New York Parent Be Required to Pay for Private School Tuition?

Traditional yellow school bus on the street

The choices regarding how and where a child will be educated can be some of the more contentious issues in a New York divorce.

Often, the dispute as to a child’s schooling comes down to one thing: whether the child will attend public school or private school.

When one parent, especially a custodial parent, wants their child to attend a private school, will the other parent be required to contribute to the hefty costs of private school tuition, even over their objections?

In New York, a child’s , along with other basic expenses such as medical care and day care are generally shared by the parents on a pro-rata basis. These expenses are in addition to basic child support obligations.

New York law gives judges wide discretion as to whether to order a parent to contribute to the costs of a private school as part of their obligation to pay for educational expenses. New York Domestic Relations Law (DRL) §240(1-b)(c)(7) provides, in relevant part, that:

“Where the court determines, having regard for the circumstances of the case and of the respective parties and in the best interests of the child, and as justice requires, that the present or future provision of post-secondary, private, special, or enriched education for the child is appropriate, the court may award educational expenses. The non-custodial parent shall pay educational expenses, as awarded, in a manner determined by the court, including direct payment to the educational provider.”

One of the key “circumstances of the respective parties” is that the court will look at in making a determination as to private school tuition obligations is the financial ability of the objecting parent to contribute to that tuition.

See, e.g., Manno v. Manno, 196 A.D.2d 488, 491 (1993). Courts will also consider the academic backgrounds of the parents as well as the educational abilities and needs of the child.
As with most issues in a divorce, the best resolution as to a child’s education and related costs is an agreement between the parties. An experienced New York divorce attorney can help ensure that a comprehensive martial settlement agreement brings clarity to the respective parents’ obligations so future disputes can be avoided.

If you have questions or concerns about child support obligations, please give Clement Law a call or fill out our online form to arrange for a consultation.  At Clement Law, we provide trusted counsel and effective advocacy to individuals in New York and New Jersey going through the transition of divorce. We look forward to assisting you.

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