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Divorce and College Tuition Expenses for Children (Part 2)

State University of New York (SUNY)

At this point in the discussion (refer to yesterday’s post for “Part 1” of this article), the attorney for one of the parties usually suggests the parents’ exposure for payment of college expenses should be limited to a “SUNY CAP”. The SUNY CAP is defined as either the cost of sending the children to one of the

SUNY schools or the cost of sending the children to the most expensive SUNY school.

The purpose for utilizing a SUNY CAP in divorce proceedings is to limit the potential expenses of a college education while allowing the children to attend a college in the SUNY system, which is considered one of the best state wide college education systems in the country.Using today’s costs, an education at a SUNY school costs approximately $18,000.00 a year, whereas an education at a private college, such as Syracuse University, would cost approximately $55,000.00 per year. As you can see, there is a large gap between the private university costs and the SUNY college tuition expenses. It should be noted this does not take into consideration scholarships, financial aid or loans that might be available to students attending a private university. These may bring the cost down considerably.

The SUNY CAP In Case Law

The SUNY CAP is used so often by divorce lawyers in settlement agreements that a questions arises as to whether this is a standard to be applied in divorces in New York. This question was answered by Supreme Court Justice Mathew F. Cooper, who sits in Manhattan Supreme Court, in the case of Pamela T. vs. Mark B. In this case, Judge Cooper stated “but there is one thing the SUNY system should not be. Contrary to what proponents of a wide and liberal application of the SUNY CAP might argue, the SUNY system should not be the assumed destination for a child of divorce.”

In the case before Judge Cooper, a child fought to go to Syracuse University. The parents were both lawyers who had been divorced in 2008. Both of the parents earn in excess of $100,000 a year. Judge Cooper’s decision stated the parents had
The court’s prior decision in the 2008 Judgment of Divorce did not deal with the issue of college expenses for the two children of the marriage. Judge Cooper ordered the father, Mark B., to pay 40% of the son’s college education at Syracuse, which was approximately $21,000 per year.The moral of this story is that the details of college education expenses for children should be laid out in a separation agreement or stipulation of settlement. This will eliminate future questions regarding college education responsibilities.

resources in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although the mother was willing to pay for half of the cost of sending one of her sons to Syracuse University, the father was not. He only wished to pay half of the expense to send his son to the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Fathers who come to our law office often claim that they are treated like second class citizens in the Family Court regarding child custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), orders of protection and issues involving child abuse and child neglect. They also relate to us that in divorce proceedings in the Supreme Court they are not treated fairly. Our law office represents fathers with regard to all types of proceedings in the Family Court and the Supreme Court. We aggressively protect fathers’ rights. We deal with difficult issues, such as downward modifications of child support, relocation problems, parental alienation cases and issues involving parental alienation syndrome. For more than 33 years, we have been recognized as one of the premier fathers’ rights law firms in the Metropolitan New York area. If you have matrimonial or family problems, we can help you. Call for a consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

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