Once again, a Justice Dollinger opinion, here in Messsinger v. Messinger decided on February 11, 2020, reveals his efforts to dive into the minds of the litigants to work things out.
Under the parties’ 2014 divorce settlement agreement, the father had agreed to finance the son’s college education, except for a $6,000 loan and with a SUNY cap. In exchange, the mother had waived child support for the son while in college, receiving support only for the parties’ younger daughter (and that was reduced in light of other expenses the father was paying). No provision was made for the payment of the future college expenses of the parties’ younger daughter who would not be graduating high school until 2018.
In 2017, the father retired from his $115,000-per-year position and was now receiving his pension (a part of the pension was being paid to the mother as her marital share).
Monroe County Acting Supreme Court Justice Richard A. Dollinger determined that although here was no evidence in the agreement that the parents anticipated the father’s retirement in his late 50s; there was also nothing that restricted his ability to retire. The Court held the father was entitled to determine when to retire.
Given all the facts, including that both parents were receiving a significant pension benefit when the father retired, the Court considered only the parties’ current income when allocating the college costs for the daughter. In the Court’s view, a proportional allocation of the parental cost of the daughter’s college education was not unreasonable, accords with the current financial circumstances of the parents and has some semblance to the terms under which the parents financed the son’s education.