NJ Parents on the Hook for Tuition Won’t Be Held In Contempt

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It will now be left to the Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court to decide whether a girl’s divorced parents must pay her college tuition fees despite their disagreement concerning where she’s attending school.

The case was referred to the higher court last week by a judge who said, “I’ve really never seen a family torn apart the way this family is torn apart.” In addition, the judge ruled that the 21-year-old’s parents would not be held in contempt for refusing to pay the $16,000 they were previously ordered to pay toward their daughter’s tuition at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Ricci’s attorney, Andrew Rochester, had been seeking a sanction of $100 for every day Ricci’s parents failed to pay their court-ordered share of their daughter’s $26,000 tuition.  Rochester said the amount of $100 was merely a suggestion, and he had not been looking to hold her parents in contempt of court.  All he had been looking for was a way to enforce the original court order from 2013.

“It’s not the label that’s important to me, it’s the result. They’ve made it clear they have no intent to comply,” Rochester said of Ricci and McGarvey. “What we want is for you to enforce the order.”

The parents did not appear in court, although they did file an appeal against the recent ruling.  They said they had not paid their portion because their daughter had not provided evidence that she had looked into all the financial aid options that she had available to her, writes Andy Polhamus for NJ.com.

“My client’s position is not that her child isn’t entitled to college education,” said McGarvey’s attorney, Robert Adinolfi. “It’s that her child shouldn’t dictate where she goes. What if she wants to go to Penn next? Or Cornell?”

Caitlyn Ricci had originally sued her estranged parents in February of 2013.  According to her parents, she had been kicked out of “Disney college,” an internship program that feeds into positions at Walt Disney World in Florida, when she was caught drinking underage.  After returning home, she had refused to do chores, and left her mother’s home after an argument about taking summer courses.

At that time, a judge had ordered them to pay $16,000.  Since then Ricci had been seeking an injunction that would force her parents to pay the money while they sought an appeal.  If they did not pay it they would need to pay a fine or face jail time.

Recently, a judge ruled that her parents would have to pay $906 of her tuition fees at Rowan, the school she had attended prior to her admittance to Temple.  She has been living with her father’s parents, who have in an argument with their son for multiple years.

Ever since the Newburgh v. Arrigo case in 1982, New Jersey courts have been ruling that separated parents need to pay at least a portion of their child’s tuition, writes Dan McQuade for Philadelphia.