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Father Ordered to Pay Half of Daughter’s Legal Education

A two-judge appellate panel has ruled that a father from New Jersey has to pay half of his daughter’s law school bills, according to The New York Daily News.

The father is James Livingston, a Rutgers University history professor. He will be required to pay $112,500 for his daughter’s law school education at Cornell Law School.

Back in 2009, Livingston agreed to pay half of his daughter’s law school education is she earned at least a C average. This was part of the terms Livingston signed when he divorced his wife, Patricia Rossi, with whom he was married for 26 years.

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Livingston’s daughter graduated in 2009 from Rutgers and took a job prior to being accepted to multiple law schools in 2012.

Court records show that when she decided to enroll at Cornell, the daughter wrote her dad asking for his half of the education money.

Livingston wrote back with a counter-offer. He said he would pay $7,500 if his daughter lived with her mother and went to school locally, at Rutgers Law School.

Rossi decided to sue Livingston in 2012 and won the case. The judge ordered the father to pay the money. Livingston appealed, claiming that his daughter’s time away from school, their estrangement, and how he was not allowed to help her make a law school decision make him exempt from the clause in the divorce.

“Father argues that the divorce agreement should be interpreted to include two implied terms: first, that he would have a good relationship with his daughter, and second, that he would be involved in making the decision of which school she would attend,” Judges Joseph Yannotti and Victor Ashrafi wrote in their ruling. “We reject this argument, as did Judge Weisberg.”
Daniel H. Brown, the attorney for Rossi, said, “I was expecting (the decision) based on the tenor of the oral arguments. You could read the tea leaves. The parties negotiated the settlement as to what their respective obligations would be. The parties can agree to support the child and that’s exactly what occurred here.”

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