Plaintiff seeks increased support for four children born of her marriage to defendant. Her application raises the question of whether this court has the power to require continued support for Edward, the eldest son, who is now 18 years of age and a college freshman. In addition to oral argument, counsel were given the opportunity to file briefs on this question. Testimony was taken concerning the background, education and financial status of both parents as well as Edward's scholastic ability.
The marriage was terminated by foreign divorce in 1962. Both parties have since remarried. Plaintiff has had custody of the children since the divorce. Defendant's obligation to support them was fixed by order of this court, entered on April 22, 1966; it provided for payments of $60 a week and satisfaction of any unusual medical and dental expenses. On June 10, 1966 the order was modified to require defendant to pay for eye care and dental expenses of the children in addition to the $60 weekly support. Defendant is presently in arrears on support payments. The cause is disputed. Plaintiff charges defendant with a deliberate reduction in support payments because he knew Edward intended to enter college in September of this year. Defendant attributes the arrears to his financial inability to meet his obligations.
Edward was born on December 26, 1949. He was a "straight A" student in high school. Because of his particular aptitude in the sciences, he received an Allied Chemical Corporation grant and apparently has an excellent chance that the grant will be renewed. He is enrolled at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. If his current year is successfully completed, he plans to apply for admission to Drexel Institute in Philadelphia. Defendant concedes that the boy is scholastically gifted. He is, in fact, proud of his son's achievements. He testified that he would like his son to have a college education, but stated he was unable to afford it.
Defendant himself completed only three years of high school. Plaintiff is a high school graduate. Defendant is employed by Warner Chilcot Laboratories in Morris Plains and earns $10,500 a year. His present wife is also employed and between them they have a net monthly income of approximately $1,030. They have no children in their household at present, but apparently defendant's elderly father-in-law is partially dependent on his daughter.
Defendant argues against continuing support for his oldest son on three grounds -- financial inability; the availability of Rutgers University at a much lower cost than the yearly $3,200 charge for board and tuition at Rensselaer and the absence of legal authority in this court to order such support. On the last score, we were mindful at the time of oral argument of the decision in Nebel v. Nebel, 99 N.J. Super. 256 (Ch. Div. 1968).*fn1 Defendant sees Nebel as inapplicable here since it was decided in the Chancery Division of the Superior Court. He argues that the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court is limited in and to its statutory authority and is without jurisdiction to order a contribution toward college expenses. Indeed, he goes further and suggests that this court lacks the power to order support for any "child" who has reached the age of 18, relying upon R.R. 6:1-3(b) which
defines "child" as a person under that age, and upon R.R. 6:1-3(c) which defines "adult" as a person 18 years of age or over.
Plaintiff disputes the disclaimer of financial inability. She also urges a different view of Nebel and the power of this court. She does not seek to impose the entire obligation of Edward's education upon defendant; rather, she maintains that $15 a week for each child is no longer appropriate. She urges that circumstances have changed, living costs have increased, the children's needs become greater as they grow older, and defendant's income has increased substantially.*fn2 She concludes that the support for each child should be increased accordingly and that defendant should be required to continue to provide weekly support for Edward despite the fact that he is over 18, has completed his high school education and is a college student.
The jurisdiction of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court is defined and limited by statute. Concerning support N.J.S. 2 A:4-18 confers:
"* * * jurisdiction concurrently with such other courts as may have jurisdiction over the matter, to hear and determine in a ...