Divorced parents don’t need to pay emancipated daughter’s tuition

In some states, family courts can order parents to pay their children’s college tuition. But a recent New Jersey case shows that courts will set limits on this.

The case involved Caitlyn Ricci, a 23-year-old college student who went to court to become “emancipated” — in other words, legally independent — from her parents a few years earlier when she moved out of her mother’s home to live with her grandparents.

After a family court entered the emancipation order, her divorced parents filed to end their support obligations. Caitlyn responded by seeking to undo the emancipation order and require her parents to pay her $2,000 tuition for community college. The judge ruled in her favor and ordered that they do so.

But before Caitlyn finished her associate’s degree, she transferred to a much more expensive four-year college and asked that her parents be ordered to pay for that. A judge did so, but a New Jersey appellate court reversed the decision, finding that the lower court didn’t examine the situation closely enough before determining that Caitlyn should no longer be considered emancipated.

Of course, results vary depending on the facts of a particular case. If you’re dealing with issues like this, talk to a family attorney to learn more.

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