Roe v. Roe
A court can find that a separation contract that requires the husband to contribute to college expenses only if he has a "meaningful parent child relationship" is ambiguous. The defendant wife moved to find the plaintiff husband in contempt of court, because he allegedly did not contribute to the post-secondary education expenses of the parties' child. The parties' separation contract, which was incorporated into the dissolution judgment, provided, "The parties shall share equally the cost of the minor children's college educations, less any scholarship or grants in aid, provided that said minor child is registered in a degree conferring program." The separation contract added, "Each [parties'] obligations hereunder shall be contingent on the fact that they at the time of said obligation have [an] ongoing and meaningful parent child relationship with the children." The husband argued that he is not required to contribute to college expenses, because he no longer has an "ongoing and meaningful parent child relationship" with the parties' child. The court found that the parties' child was 4 years old when the parties divorced. The plaintiff husband, who remarried and moved with his new spouse to Maryland, sent holiday cards, went to dinner with the child in April 2011 and attended her high school graduation in June 2012. The court found that the plaintiff husband and the child communicate with each other, and a relationship exists. The separation contract does not require that the relationship be perfect. The plaintiff husband failed to prove that there is no "ongoing and meaningful parent child relationship." The court did not find the plaintiff husband in contempt of court, because the language in the separation contract was ambiguous. The husband, who admitted that he possesses the ability to pay, could have requested clarification, as opposed to unilaterally not paying college education expenses. The court ordered the husband to pay 50 percent of the college education expenses, pursuant to the separation contract, and awarded the defendant wife $4,000 in attorneys' fees.