Most kids have spats with their parents during the growing-up years, but laugh about it later on in life when the child has gone out into the world and realized how good they actually had it when mom and dad took care of everything. It may take them a few years, especially stubborn ones (like me), but eventually they realize that being an adult means being completely responsible for their own selves …”most” being the key word.
Most kids don’t leave home at 18 (yes, I’m finally an adult!!) and expect their parents to continue to pay for them…hence being “independent.” However, for one girl in New Jersey…that’s not the case.
Caitlyn Ricci, like most teenagers, disliked her parents’ rules and certainly felt too old for a curfew (who of us didn’t feel like that at that age?) Common sense would tell you: once you leave your parents’ house in order to get out from under their rules…you are also out from under their financial provision…right?
Not everyone. According to Caitlyn’s parents, who have been divorced since she was 4, Caitlyn left her mother’s house just before she turned 18 when they tried to get her to do chores, take summer classes, and enforced a curfew on her after discovering she was drinking. Caitlyn then moved in with her paternal grandparents and ceased all forms of communication with the people who raised her. Michael Ricci & Maura McGarvey, her parents, informed Caitlyn before she left that leaving her mother’s home meant they would no longer cover her expenses. Caitlyn left anyway.
After discussing the issue with her ex-husband, Maura filed a motion to emancipate her daughter after she moved in with her grandparents. The Friday before Mother’s Day, Maura received something in the mail regarding Caitlyn, though it wasn’t the Mother’s Day card or even a token of reconciliation she was hoping for. She was being mailed court papers stating that her daughter was suing her. However, Caitlyn’s lawyer, Andrew Rochester, says Caitlyn was “thrown out” by her mother.
In spite of efforts to reconcile the relationship with their daughter, neither parent has spoken to her in two years. They say even when they see her in court, she refuses to make eye contact.
In October 2013, the case was tried by Judge Thomas J. Shusted of Camden County Superior Court. There is a law in New Jersey that says parents must pay for their child’s education, no matter what age that child is. Due to this law, the judge ordered the parents to split the costs of their daughter’s tuition, fees, and books, as long as she applied for any loans and scholarships available. The parents refused to pay, saying Caitlyn didn’t apply for any loans or scholarships at all, and in fact, transferred to an out of state university last year.
Caitlyn, who seems adult enough to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit, didn’t do all of this alone. The grandparents she moved in with also paid for the lawyer used to sue their own child, encouraging Caitlyn to pursue the suit, according to Michael Ricci. “She comes from two loving families and she was given what she wanted when she was growing up,” he said. Adding that
“I have zero respect for my parents for what they’ve done and how they’ve handled the situation. They’re the ones who are responsible for tearing my family apart and tearing my daughter away.”
Caitlyn allegedly bought a new car soon after moving in with her grandparents, but couldn’t afford community college.
In October 2014, the case was brought before Judge Donald J. Stein. According to Caitlyn’s lawyer, the new judge ordered the parents to pay $16,000 per year of Caitlyn’s tuition at the out-of-state university for every year she is enrolled in classes. The parents told the judge they would have paid Caitlyn’s tuition had she stayed in New Jersey and applied for all loans and scholarships available as previously agreed. Since she didn’t apply for help and actually moved to a much more expensive college, they didn’t uphold their end of the bargain.
Caitlyn is now 21 years old, has not lived with nor spoken to her parents for two years even through text, yet still expects them to support her, an adult, financially.
According to dictionary.com, the official definition for an adult is “a person who is fully grown or developed or of age; a person who has attained the age of maturity as specified by law.”
According to USlegal.com, the age of majority is “the legally defined age at which a person is considered an adult, with all the attendant rights and responsibilities of adulthood. The age of majority is defined by state laws, which vary by state, but is 18 in most states. Rights acquired upon reaching age of majority include rights to vote and consent to marriage, among others…It is the age at which one becomes a legal adult and gains full legal rights. It is also the age at which a person is liable for their own actions, such as contractual obligations or liability for negligence. In general, a parental duty of support to a child ceases when the child reaches the age of majority.”
One has to wonder, if it was the grandparents that funded a new car purchase, a lawyer to sue her parents, and daily living expenses…why not college as well? Who’s really behind the family feud?
Who do you think is behind all of this?
Should parents be financially responsible for adult children, especially estranged adult children?
When is it time to buck up, grow up, and be responsible for yourself instead of expecting your parents to be responsible for you?