Are Parents Required to Pay for Private School in New York?

April 24, 2014
Louis Sternberg


Recently, NBA player Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest), was served with Family Court papers demanding that he pay $140,000 for his son’s private high school education as part of his obligation to pay child support. According to the papers, the parties previously decided to send their son, Jeron Artest, to Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn and that Metta World Peace agreed to pay for it. The petition is asking for Metta World Peace to place $140,000 in escrow for his son’s four-year high school education. Additionally, the petition also requests that he put $250,000 in an account for Jeron’s college tuition.

Educational expenses, like out-of-pocket medical expenses and daycare expenses are generally shared by the parents on a pro-rata basis. These costs are in addition to the basic child support obligation.

Domestic Relations Law (DRL) §240(1-b)(c)(7) provides, in relevant part, that “where the court determines, having rechildgard for the circumstances of the case and of the respective parties and in the best interests of the child, and as just requires, that the present or future provision of post-secondary, private, special, or enriched education for the child is appropriate, the court may award education expenses.” Manno v. Manno, 196 A.D.2d 488, 491 (1993).

Prior to the enactment of this provision, the Court previously held that absent “special circumstances” or a voluntary agreement, the furnishing of a private school college education to one’s minor children was not regarded as a necessary expense for which a part could be obligated.

However, with the enactment of DRL §240(1-b)(c)(7), the court may properly direct a parent to contribute to a child’s private college education, even in the absence of special circumstances or a voluntary agreement of the parties, so long as the court’s discretion is not improvidently exercised in that regard.

In determining whether to award educational expenses, the court must consider:

(a) The circumstances of the case;
(b) The circumstances of the respective parties;
(c) The best interests of the children; and
(d) The requirements of justice.