Your friend should hire a lawyer. There are very few reasons to release him without payment in full. A lawyer would be his best chance to present the arguments to the Judge. Of course, payment in full would get him released. Unless your friend is unable to work due to a disability, the court will keep putting pressure on him until he is current in his child support obligations. Temporary financial problems like unemployment won't excuse this obligation.
Your friend absolutely needs to hire an attorney. The facts as you have presented do not sound quite right and a review of the paperwork would be necessary. The point of placing someone in jail with a purge amount is to secure payment. $104K sounds too high to be a reasonable purge amount as it is unlikely someone would be able to come up with that sum of money. Although if he has been behind for a significant period of time without a good faith effort at paying back the arrears, then it is possible the Judge felt as though this was the only way to get his attention. Also, just because DOR has deemed someone emancipated does not mean that the child is emancipated by law. DOR takes the position that upon age 18, child support stops; however the emancipation statute provides for child support to continue to age 21 or 23 depending on certain factors. It is clear that a review of the paperwork is necessary in order to flush out the circumstances and the facts. Further, there may be remedies available; however they would be procedural Motions and would require the experience of a family law attorney.
This response is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal advice; nor is this answer intended to create an attorney/client relationship. Legal advice and an attorney/client relationship can only be rendered after a full in person consultation has been conducted with an attorney wherein all necessary facts and circumstances are disclosed. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the within response may be different.
Your friend may have the funds available to pay this, if the Court ordered him/her to remain in custody until the full amount is paid. This seems like an unusual sentence. I have seen the Court incarcerate someone up to 60 days. There is always a set amount of time the individual shall remain incarcerated. More facts are needed to better assess his/her options in this situation. Paying child support is not an option in Massachusetts. He should hire a good Family Law attorney to assist him in this matter.