In a groundbreaking case that recently unfolded in New Jersey courts, parents cannot be held responsible for paying a child’s college tuition without having a say in their child’s decisions. The state’s Appellate Court oversaw Ricci v Ricci, a case that in which daughter Caitlyn Ricci battled her divorced parents Michael Ricci and Maura McGarvey. The daughter had been emancipated at the age of 19 when she moved in with her grandparents, according to her parents. However, the young Ricci still felt her mother and father were obliged to blindly pay her university costs.

If you are seeking advice about child emancipation or have questions on family law, Vayman & Teitelbaum, Attorneys at Law, can help. The experienced professionals at Vayman & Teitelbaum can provide you with the knowledge and resources to make the best decisions for you and your family.

Ricci v Ricci Background

Divorced parents Michael and Maura mutually decided their daughter, Caitlyn, was not responsible enough to go away to college after graduating from high school. The parents paid for their daughter to attend community college in hopes should would be able to attend university later. During this time, the young Ricci was accepted to be a part of the Disney company as an intern in Florida. However, due to breaking the underaged drinking rules imposed by the internship, she was kicked out of the program. It was another young, foolish mistake by the teen. Teenage mistakes were the reason her parents decided to keep her from going away to college.


In 2013, Caitlyn Ricci moved out of her mother’s home and into the home of her grandparents. It was at this time that both Michael and Maura took the stance that Caitlyn was emancipated. However, they never legally took steps to emancipate Caitlyn.

An original ruling that cited the 1982 case of Newburgh v Arrigo, stated the parents had to pay for their daughter’s $16,000 a year tuition fees at Temple University. The original 1982 ruling declared divorced parents are “obligated” to pay for a child’s college tuition. The court’s most recent ruling in February of 2017 has decided that parents cannot blindly pay for tuition with no say in a child’s decisions. The court has sent it back to the lower courts to judge whether Caitlyn was emancipated when the original case was filed.

What is Child Emancipation in Georgia?

Emancipation occurs when the parents’ rights to custody, control, services, and earnings of a minor are terminated. Natural emancipation can be reached in one of three ways in the state of Georgia. The first occurs when the child – 18 years or younger – is legally married. The second circumstance in which emancipation takes place is when the child reaches 18, while the final takes place when the child is on active duty with the United States armed forces. Children under 18 can file a petition for emancipation, however, to “divorce” their parents.

Famous Emancipation Cases

While Ricci v Ricci is set to have ramifications across the US in terms of emancipation and what parents are obliged to pay for, there are other famous cases, most of which involve child actors and musicians:

  • Aaron Carter – Pop singer
  • Alicia Silverstone – Actress
  • Drew Barrymore  – Actress
  • Macaulay Culkin – Actor
  • Jaime Pressly – Model/Actress

Vayman & Teitelbaum can Help

The law firm of Vayman & Teitelbaum can provide you with legal guidance when it comes to family law. With four locations in Georgia, Vayman & Teitelbaum, Attorneys at Law, is available to give you insight into divorce, child custody, and child support. Visit our dedicated family law page to see how we can help you. If you have any questions, contact us and let our experienced attorneys in family law go to work for you.