That years-long court battle swung away from the college student, this week when the New Jersey appeals court held that Michael Ricci and Maura Garvey were not responsible for the college expenses of their estranged daughter.
The court ruled the New Jersey former couple are not legally required to pay for their daughter’s education. Saturday Michael Ricci and ex-wife Maura Garvey won their appeal and the order from the lower court was set aside by the the appeals court.
The three-judge panel ordered a new hearing on the demand by Caitlyn Ricci for the payment by her parents.
.“A parent cannot be viewed as a wallet and deprived of involvement of college decision making process,” according to the ruling cited by NJ.com.
By it’s ruling the appellate court referred the case back to a lower court, but encouraged the family to avoid the stress of continuing litigation.
Maura McGarvey and Michael Ricci [photo] in court this week challanging a judge’s order that they pay $16,000 towards their daughter’s out of state college tuition
The family’s legal battle kicked off when her parents obtained a March 2013 consent order emancipating Caitlyn — the Temple student had already left her mother’s home two years prior to live with her paternal grandparents.
A judge in 2013 allowed Ricci to challenge the order and required her parents to pay tuition of less than $2,000 while she attended Gloucester County College. After she transferred to Temple in 2014, a judge ordered her parents to cover the higher costs of the Philadelphia university.
Caitlyn Ricci reportedly, was able to win the case based off a 1982 ruling that states divorced parents are legally obligated to pay for their child’s tuition.
Ricci’s mother, Maura McGarvey, told the court they as parents felt it was wrong to bear all the responsibilty with no corresponding rights. She explained that her daughter left after refusing to do chores and follow a curfew, which they enacted to curb her repeatedly getting into trouble for underage drinking. She and her ex-husband contended that being forced to pay the $16,000 annual tuition was unconstitutional, the judges agreed.
The decision noted Caitlyn “demonstrated her desire to be independent of parental control, which obviated any obligation for support,” the Post reported.
After the verdict, Maura McGarvey’s attorney said Ricci and her parents have reconciled in the wake of their legal battle.
“Our main goal is reconciliation for the family unit, and that’s what happened here,” attorney Kelli Martone said. “It appears her relationship with her parents is incredibly improved.”