In a case that has received national attention, a New Jersey college student, estranged from her mother and from her father and living with her grandparents filed a lawsuit in family court seeking to compel her divorced parents to pay for the cost of her college education at Temple University.
Both parents opposed her application, claiming that they should not be forced to pay for her college costs, both viewing their daughter as emancipated.
The daughter claims that even though she is estranged from both parents, she is not emancipated and that the court has the right to impose a financial obligation upon each of her parents to pay for the cost of her college education.
The trial court agreed with the daughter and ordered both parents to pay for their daughter’s college tuition costs, prompting the parents ( jointly) to seek appellate review of the trial court’s ruling.
The argument on appeal was whether the parents had the right to view their daughter as emancipated and if she is emancipated, then the trial court has no right to require them to pay for the cost of her college.
In a written decision today, the appellate panel agreed with the parents that the issue of whether their daughter is emancipated was not determined by the trial court and therefore the matter is being sent back to the lower court to hold a hearing to determine whether the girl is emancipated as to her parents. If emancipated, then the court has no right to impose a financial obligation upon them for her support needs.
This is a unique case where the parents are divorce, both parents are estranged from their daughter and both parents are in agreement that neither should have to pay for their daughters college costs. Yet, even though estranged from both of her parents, the daughter says that her parents owe her a duty of support and that she should not be viewed as emancipated until she graduates from college.
Had the parent's still been married, admittedly the court would have been powerless to impose a financial obligation upon them. Being divorced opened the door for the daughter's actions.