Child’s Right to Sue Parents for College Tuition

Board Certified family attorney Sonya Coffman answers the questions of Southeast Texas KFDM News viewers. These questions include:

  • Can a child sue parents for college tuition?
  • Can a child’s last name be changed if their biological father never signed the birth certificate?
  • What is the legal requirement to have a non-relative present in an Intensive Care Unit?
  • What are the steps to obtaining custody of a child after the end of a relationship between the parents?

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The court in New Jersey is struggling with the issue of are we setting bad precedent that a child who feels entitled has the right to sue their parents over an x-box. In Texas a parent cannot be obligated to support a child beyond age 18 or high school graduation. In New Jersey the law says a parent has to pay child support and college tuition as long as the child is still dependent on the parent financially and under the sphere of the parent's influence. The young lady dismissed her case today because she moved back home, but the court would have had to decide whether the parents forced her out of the house and voluntarily cut her off and abandoned her or if she moved out on her own and became independent. The judge said the case was more of a parenting issue that an legal issue at that point. The friends who were helping the girl asked for $14,000 in attorney fees and $5200 in private school tuition to be reimbursed, so it sounds like they were helping her financially by paying these things for her. Parents in Texas do not need to worry about being sued in this manner.

Viewer question: I want to change my son's last name to mine, I am the only one of the birth certificate, his Dad did not sign it and has never been in his life.

ANSWER: Depends on whether the Dad's parental rights have ever been established. If so, then he must be notified of the name change. If not, then it is simply a name change for the child.

Viewer question: If you are not married and you want someone by your side in ICU do you have to have something notarized?

ANSWER: This depends on the policies of the hospital as to who is allowed in ICU. The issue of a person simply being there is different than making medical decisions for that person, which requires a medical power of attorney.

Viewer Question: What are the first steps to gaining custody of a child after the end of a relationship?

ANSWER: This requires the answers to a lot of questions. Has anyone's paternity been established, does anyone have rights to the child, if not then if the father's rights have not been established and the mother has custody and possession but then there will be no child support.