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Court orders mother to pay child support to emancipated daughter

An out-of-state court decision has held that children who are legally emancipated from their parents may be entitled to child support payments. In a unanimous decision, the court held that a girl, who had left her home at age 13 due to her mother's abusive boyfriend, was entitled to collect child support from her mother until she turned 18. This decision could prove relevant to Massachusetts children who are in need of support from their parents despite being legally emancipated, though the court decision from another state is not directly binding in ours.

The language of the decision stated that it was not the intention of the state legislature to free parents from child support obligations for children who had left their care. Instead, the court found that the legislative intent was to give district courts discretion in determining whether an emancipated child was entitled to support. Lawyers have claimed that this is a substantial victory for children who were forced to leave their homes during their childhood.

The girl in this case was legally emancipated from her mother in 2007 at age 16. As a result of the New Mexico court's decision, the girl is entitled to child support payments from 2005 to 2009. This back child support totaled $15,278. According to the girl's lawyers, this money will help support the girl as she continues her college education.

This decision is one that may provide some guidance to other state courts, including those in Massachusetts, confronted with similar issues. At the very least, this decision raises the debate across the country as to the rights and responsibilities of parents and emancipated children concerning child support.

Source: krqe.com, "NM court allows child support to emancipated minor," Barry Massey, July 2, 2012

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