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Private School

Child in a graduation cap

In a case where the parties’ agreement calls for them to “equally divide…school costs,” and one party does not contribute to the costs for years, even though not explicitly asked to do so, a court can enforce the agreement and compel contribution.  In the unpublished Appellate Division case of Hnatowski v. Hnatowski, the court held that great deference must be afforded to parties’ agreements, and where the terms of the agreement are clear, they are to be enforced.

The court held that “school costs” as defined in the agreement included private school, and the Defendant’s failure to object to the children’s attendance in private school over nine years operated as implicit consent.  In this application, the Plaintiff was not seeking reimbursement for 50% of the private school costs for the nine-year period during which the Defendant failed to contribute, but did seek 50% of the tuition and costs moving forward.  The court granted the application and ordered enforcement of the agreement and an equal contribution to the private school.

The strong public policy in our state is to enforce agreements.  As one of our court’s primary concerns is to protect our children, they often err on the side of protecting children’s financial interests.  Should any of these issues be relevant in your case, please do not hesitate to contact me at jllawrence@norris-law.com.