It had been well publicized that this year a high school senior had filed a law suit against her parent’s for financial support, college tuition, which included asking for private school tuition and college tuition. This high school senior had claimed that she was unable to support herself and she was also making allegations of emotional and psychological mistreatment, which Social Services in New Jersey found to be untrue. A Judge did consider this teens request and ultimately denied it. This case was going for a second round, but it appears that the teen had returned home, she was 18.

In Massachusetts, this exact scenario would not be able to occur. However, as there is no emancipation, a child can not be legally emancipated. However, there are issues in a divorce, paternity and/or a child custody case where there are decisions about who would pay what cost towards school tuition, camps, colleges and other extra-circular activities, and ultimately if the parents are not able to resolve this on their own, then generally a Judge is permitted to make a decision and it usually will be a parent on behalf of the child rather than the child, but there are some parallels in how the Massachusetts courts system could address some of the same issues.

In most states, once a child turns 18 or finishes high school, if there is not an issue of divorce or custody battles’ going on, then the child is no longer legally entitled to their parent’s financial support. In New Jersey this happens to be the exception. However, in Massachusetts the courts can still order the parents to pay up till the age of 23 if the child is a full time student.