Under New Jersey law, the court considers an extensive list of factors prior to determining whether continued financial support or contribution from a non-custodial parent for the costs associated with their child attending college is appropriate. (Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, 1982). For example, New Jersey courts take into account whether the non-custodial parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed towards the costs of the requested higher education. Also, courts consider the effect of the background, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education. Furthermore, courts look at the parent’s ability to pay, the requested amount of contribution sought by the child, the commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education, and even the financial resources of that child. Similarly, the court considers the child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance. Finally, the court considers the relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child. Each of these aforementioned factors impacts the court’s decision in regards to a parent’s obligation to contribute for their child’s higher education costs.
The availability and ease of acquiring personal, relevant information pertaining to their case via such social media outlets has drastically expanded, providing the involved parties with better opportunities to prove their case. Although social media itself is not quite a novel legal issue, the manner in which social media ties into the courts particular determinations about the above-mentioned factors provides an interesting basis for discussion.
Applying this principle to these previously discussed factors, it becomes evident that electronic discovery provides parties with multiple avenues to substantiate their claims. For example, a child’s transcriptions on ‘facebook’ may serve as a valuable indication of his or her “commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education.” Similarly, a child’s statements made on ‘twitter,’ or perhaps their photos, could demonstrate “the financial resources of the child.” This is merely a brief overview of the many possible ways in which social media outlets have expanded parties’ opportunities to impact the court’s analysis of each of these factors used to determine the appropriateness of ordering non-custodial parents to contribute to their child’s higher education costs.