18-Year-Old H.S. Student Sues Parents for Tuition Money & Child Support

Only in America! A high school honor student, Rachel Canning, has filed a lawsuit against her parents claiming they were abusive and for kicking her out of their house for not following their rules. She requested tuition back pay for the private school she attends and $600/month in support. The parents in turn denied the abuse and claim that Rachel chose to leave on her own after refusing to abide by house rules. The judge on the case just delivered the potentially landmark verdict to this rare case, check out the details below…

A New Jersey couple does not have to pay — for now — for their 18-year-old daughter’s college education, a judge ruled Tuesday evening.

Rachel Canning, a high school honor student, filed a lawsuit against her parents, alleging they were abusive and threw her out of their Lincoln Park home for not following rules.

Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard denied Canning’s request $600 a month in support, high school tuition back pay, college tuition and legal fees.

Parents Sean and Elizabeth Canning said they are devastated by their daughter's revolt.<br />

Parents Sean and Elizabeth Canning say they are devastated by their daughter’s actions.

He said he would revisit the issue of college tuition at the end of April, about a month after her financial aid forms are due. He asked lawyers whether it’s wise to establish precedent where parents live in fear of establishing the rules of the house, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Rachel Canning, wearing her Morris Catholic High School uniform, barely made eye contact with her parents, CBS 2′s Alice Gainer reported.

The cheerleader has been staying with a friend’s family since the beginning of November. Her friend’s father, attorney and former Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino, is bankrolling the lawsuit.

“In the four months that Rachel had been with the Inglesinos, these people have not called her, they have not come to see her, they have not sent a penny to her or to her benefactors,” the teen’s attorney, Tanya Helfand, told the judge.

Rachel Canning in court March 4 (CBS 2)

Rachel Canning in court March 4 (CBS 2)

“Any reasonable, caring parent would be so devastated and embarrassed by this situation, and they would reach out to the Inglesinos and they would reach out to their daughter, either through therapy or working with the Inglesinos to try and wrangle in this situation and make it right,” Helfand said.

Rachel Canning claims she endured years or abuse, including taunting by her mother that caused her to become bulimic.

Her parents say she ran away from their home shortly before she turned 18 and deny they abused her. Her father is former Lincoln Park Police Chief Sean Canning.

“To be clear, my clients never abandoned nor abused their child, and they have asked her to come home,” their attorney, Laurie Rush-Masuret, told reporters just before entering court.

Rush-Masuret said Rachel Canning did not want to follow house rules, including breaking up with her boyfriend whom her parents considered trouble.

Judge Peter Bogaard noted that Rachel Canning’s behavior over the past year was a concern — one or two school suspensions, drinking, losing her captaincy on the cheerleading squad and being kicked out of the campus ministry.

Rachel Canning is greeted by her friends after a court hearing in Morristown, N.J., on March 4, 2014. (credit: Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS)

Rachel Canning is greeted by her friends after a court hearing in Morristown, N.J., on March 4, 2014. (credit: Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS)

“What kind of parents would the Cannings be if they didn’t set down some strict rules?” Bogaard said.

Helfand argued that her parents should have sought help for their daughter rather than cutting her off financially.

Rachel Canning, who has a $20,000 scholarship offer from the University of Vermont, wanted the court to declare she’s nonemancipated because under the law a parent has an obligation to support their child if he or she is not emancipated.

Brian Schwartz, chairman of the New Jersey Bar Association’s Family Law section, told WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot earlier Tuesday the teen had an uphill battle winning in court.

Rachel Canning

Rachel Canning, 18, is suing her parents in Morris County, N.J., on claims that they kicked her out of the house and refused to fund her college education. (Credit: CBS 2)

“If you have a child who was in a home environment which was unsafe for her, whether it be emotionally or physically, and she fled the house … for safe harbor then she is going to be entitled to support from mom and dad,” Schwartz said. “If, on the other hand, she voluntarily decided to leave and now is looking for someone else to pay the freight, she may have a harder time.

“There comes the question as to when parents have the right to say, ‘You follow my rules under my house or else you don’t get,’ and she (Rachel Canning) seems to want both sides. … ‘I don’t want to live under your rules, but I do want your money.’” – Via CBSLocal

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