One Penn Plaza, Suite 2430, New York, NY 10119
P: 212-382-1600
Get Directions ›
Divorce Law

Under New York Law, is a Parent Obligated to Pay Private School Tuition as Part of Child Support?

Responsibility for private school tuition is, perhaps, the least predictable aspect of a New York child support proceeding. To a large extent, the other issues in child support proceedings are resolvable by applying statutory formulas. For example, the principal question in most child support proceedings is the amount of "basic child support that will be paid by the noncustodial parent. The existence of this basic obligation cannot credibly be challenged except in the most extreme circumstances, such as where the parties exercise shared physical custody or there are allegations that the custodial parent has intentionally alienated the subject children. Furthermore, in most cases, the amount of basic child support can readily be estimated by applying the relatively straightforward percentages that are provided for under the Child Support Standards Act.

Similarly, there are certain "add-ons to basic child support that are mandatory. These include medical expenses that are not covered by insurance and work-related childcare. These mandatory "add-ons are also fairly straightforward to resolve. In the vast majority of cases, the noncustodial parent pays his is or her pro rata share, which is determined on the basis of the parties' respective incomes.

There are certain "add-ons that are not mandatory, but that can be awarded at the court's "discretion upon reviewing the totality of circumstances. The issue of private school tuition is, perhaps, the issue that is least predictable. The legal "standard for deciding whether or not the noncustodial parent should contribute to private school could not be more ambiguous. According to New York case law, contribution toward private school tuition may be awarded "as justice requires, taking into account the circumstances of the case and the respective parties and the best interests of the subject child(ren). In most instances, New York Supreme Court and Family Court judges will consider the following three factors in deciding whether to order contribution toward private school tuition:

As a practical matter, where the parents both attended private schools and there are ample financial resources, New York judges are likely to order the noncustodial parent to pay for a portion of private school tuition. In other cases (for example, where there is limited income), the outcome is far less certain.


Areas of Practice
Contact Information
One Penn Plaza
Suite 2430
New York, New York 10119
Phone: 212.382.1600
Facsimile: 212-382-0920