New Jersey has been in the headlines lately with the Rachel Canning case. This 18-year-old moved out of her parents’ home and into a friend’s home after she disagreed with her parents’ rules. She then sued her parents for her high school tuition and to compel them to pay for her college tuition. The case has made a big splash, raising questions about a parent’s responsibilities and when a child is emancipated. So far the court has rejected Rachel’s request for emergency support but the case isn’t over.
In NJ, a child is not automatically emancipated at age 18. Emancipation happens when the child becomes financially independent. At that point, the parent no longer makes decisions for the child and is not obligated to financial support him or her. If a child graduates high school and attends college full time, they are still considered dependent.
New Jersey is a bit unusual because it is one of the few states that allows a court to require divorced parents to pay for a child’s college tuition under certain circumstances.
Rachel Canning’s parents are not divorced, thus this case is unusual and groundbreaking. The first court appearance resulted in the judge ruling that the parents were not required to pay her high school tuition without a full hearing. The issue of college tuition has not yet been decided and will be discussed at later court dates.
DeTorres & DeGeorge handles family law in the Princeton and Edison and surrounding areas of New Jersey. Schedule a consultation today.