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Father Ordered To Pay Private School Tuition For Child

father's rights lawyerFamily Court Judge, W. Dennis Duggan, sitting in Albany County, New York, recently ordered a father to pay 71% of private school tuition for his son even though the parties had an oral agreement whereby the Mother would pay 100% of the private school tuition for the child.  Judge Duggan in his decision said there is “a sound and substantial basis” for requiring the father to pay the lion’s share of the tuition pursuant to New York State Family Court Act section 413 (1)(c)(7).  This section requires the non-custodial parent to pay educational expenses if “private, special or enriched” schooling would be in the best interest of the child as determined by the Court.

 Private School Best Educational Setting For Son

Judge Duggan ruled when the father consented to have his son attend the Christian Brothers Academy, this was an acknowledgment by him attending this school was the best educational setting for his son.  Although the parties had an oral agreement which required the mother to pay the entire $55,600 tuition for the school, Judge Duggan ruled this agreement was “not relevant to the outcome of [the father’s] objections” to the Support Magistrate’s finding which directed him to pay 71% percent of the schooling costs.  “The reason that this is so is because the Family Court has no authority to enforce contracts.”

Agreement Regarding Private Not In Writing

Judge Duggan took the position that the Court wasn’t setting aside the parents agreement because there was no agreement.  Agreements, pursuant to New York State Statute of Frauds, must be in writing.  Although there was an oral discussion, the Judge’s decision was this was not a binding agreement.  The Judge further noted because the Family Court is a court with “limited jurisdiction, it has no authority to rule on such issues.”  “Its jurisdiction is limited in this case to applying Family Court Act section 413(1)(c)(7) to the evidence.  The interpretation of an oral contract between the parties imposing equitable relief is beyond the courts authority.”

 Son Thriving In Private School

Judge Duggan took into consideration a Support Magistrate had made findings the parties son was “thriving and his emotional state had improved because he had attended the Christian Brothers Academy.”  Prior to this, he had been attending public school where he had been subject to being bullied.  The Judge’s position was the cost of the Christian Brothers Academy were proportionate to the improvement in the child’s life and the benefits the child received from attending this school.  The allocation of 71% of the tuition cost to the father was based on the analysis under the Child Support Standards Act.

Conclusion

Fathers beware!  If your children attend private school you can be forced to pay for a portion of the tuition.advocates for father's rights

About Elliot S. Schlissel

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has spent more that 30 years representing individuals in matrimonial and family law cases.