On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division - Family Part, Hunterdon County, Docket No. FM-10-387-04.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 10, 2008
Before Judges Rodríguez and Waugh.
Brett D. Horne (father) appeals from those portions of the November 14, 2007 order denying his motion to emancipate his daughter Amanda, now age twenty-one; ordering him to pay $800 per month for her support; and obligating him to maintain $50,000 in life insurance to secure the child support obligation. Robin Horne, now known as Robin Manfredi (mother), had opposed the motion. We reverse.
The parties were divorced in 2004, after nineteen years of marriage. Two children were born of the marriage, Amanda and Nicole. Nicole is emancipated and is not the subject of this appeal. The parties entered into a Property Settlement and Separation Agreement (PSA), which provided the following regarding emancipation and payment of college expenses:
7. The parties have chosen to deviate from the child support guidelines which are attached hereto based upon Husband's agreement to pay $1000.00 per month for both children in addition to his proportionate share of all costs relating to the children including the first $250.00 per child per year for medical costs. The parties shall split the cost of the children's mutually agreed upon extra curricular activities, school activities, and unreimbursed medical expenses. The Husband shall pay 60% and the Wife shall pay 40% of the minor children's extra curricular activities. Child support shall become effective October 1, 2004.
The Husband's obligations to pay child support shall continue until each child is emancipated as defined herein.
12. The parties agree that, if the children have the ability, and if they are financially able to pay for the children's college education, which costs shall include tuition, room and board, books, and reasonable costs of transportation (4 round trips per year), the children shall either attend a state university or community college. The parties agree that the children shall apply and be responsible for all financial aid, loans, grants and scholarships available to them prior to either party contributing to their education. After all financial assistance is calculated, then the parties shall share that net amount due with the Husband being responsible for 60% and the Wife being responsible for 40%. Said college tuition shall not exceed the cost of two years of college at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey. The parties shall modify the then existing child support order when either child enters college. The Husband shall pay 60% costs for both children's college tuition, costs, fees, room and board. At that time, the Husband shall pay $800 per month in child support for the remaining unemancipated child and contribute 60% of the costs for the other child's college tuition, costs, fees, room and board during the (30) thirty weeks of the college year. The Wife shall contribute 40% of the college tuition, costs, fees, and board for the child enrolled as a full time student. The parties agree that Husband shall pay the $1000.00 per month child support for the remaining 22 weeks of the year when the college classes are not in session. Said payments shall be made directly to the Wife.
14. The term "emancipation" shall be defined for the purposes of this Agreement as follows:
a. The completion of the child's formal education on a matriculating basis, notwithstanding whether either child attends a four year college/university. It is understood that as long as the child is diligently pursuing his or her formal education through a four year undergraduate school, is obtaining passing grades of C or better, and is deemed by the college or school to be a full time student, the child shall not be considered emancipated.
b. Upon the completion of any of the prior segments of the child's education and upon failure to commence the next segment of his or her education, or upon leaving school, the child shall be deemed emancipated. A child shall not be emancipated if one fails to continue his education because of some injury, illness or other cause beyond the child's control.
When Amanda graduated from high school, there was a hearing on the ability of each parent to ...