Teen Honor Student Sues Parents for Cash, College Tuition

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It’s a new twist on the classic “he said, she said” case. Rachel Canning, a New Jersey high school honor student, is suing her parents for abandonment, demanding they provide financial support and pay for her college tuition and claiming they kicked her to the curb once she turned 18.

But the girl’s father tells a much different story.

According to the Daily Record of Parsippany, N.J., Sean Canning, a retired police chief and Rachel’s father, said he and his wife, Elizabeth, didn’t throw their daughter out. He claims she left voluntarily because she didn’t want to abide by her parents’ basic rules, like doing household chores, following a curfew and being respectful. Canning said they also asked their daughter to consider ending a relationship with a boyfriend they didn’t like.

Canning, a cheerleader and lacrosse player who wants to study biomedical engineering, is living with her best friend and her family, the Daily Record says. Her friend’s father is footing the bill for Canning’s lawsuit and attorney’s fees.

Canning wants the court to find that she’s still legally dependent on her parents for support. She wants them to pay an outstanding $5,306 debt for tuition to her private high school, provide living and transportation expenses, give her access to her college fund, and pay her legal bills.

“We love our child and miss her. This is terrible. It’s killing me and my wife,” Sean Canning told the Daily Record.

“She’s demanding that we pay her bills but she doesn’t want to live at home. … What do you do when a child says ‘I don’t want your rules but I want everything under the sun and you to pay for it?’’”

This case could have some fallout. Jeralyn Lawrence, the incoming New Jersey Bar Association’s Family Law Section chair, told the New York Post, “This could open the floodgates of recalcitrant kids fighting with their parents, moving out and then suing for them to keep paying.”

What do you think? Is this a story of a spoiled, entitled teenager or a college-bound honor student who deserves better from her folks? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • RENITA

    Of course it is spoiled kid. If she wants her parents to continue to support her, then she has live in their home and follow their rules. It does not matter, if she does not like the rules, that are obviously not harmful to her and to promote good behavior, not penailizer her.
    When she choose to leave, she declared her adult independence, and the parents are no longer responsible for her.
    I can see that if she was going to the same high school, that she always did and it was private, then the parents would have signed contract with the school that they were paying for her evucation at that school, so the school could possibly sue them to recoop the school fees, but not the girl. Unless the parents notified the school that she had left home and they were no longer responsibile for her bills.

    • Linda Davis

      She chose her emancipation. Whether it was a tantrum on her part, or not, her choice. She needs to own it and all the consequences of her decision. I grieve for the parents. The enormous disappointment as a parent after 100% devotion to raising a child … priceless. Literally, priceless … not a penny more for anything. A child will not suddenly respect you for caving in. We must all own our choices. You do not want this to become a generational issue. We all know what parent abuse is. The devastation …emotional distress, financial, career, friendships … Counter-sue. Trust me this is now viral … we will all support you financially if you counter-sue. This is America … anything and everything can happen here … nip this one in the bud for all of us.

  • Tracy Harris

    She’s an adult, no longer a child, that’s the whole issue here.

  • grandmaguest

    Whaaaa….poor baby. Didn’t like following the rules of the house so she left but still wants mommy and daddy to pay for everything????? Well, welcome to the real world kiddo. By the way, ever heard of public school.

  • mibtp

    I can’t believe the parents of her friend are paying for this? They are as much a piece of crap as the daughter! I hope the daughter turns around and sues the family she’s living with for not getting her a car to drive around in or for not buying her favorite ice cream.

    If she’s an honor student, the twit should have applied for scholarships and paid her own way through college.

  • Joseph Freitas

    Wow, this could have set a dangerous precedent. Can you imagine? Your automatically in debt to your children for what ever living and college expenses they feel like they need.
    I would give her “her” college fund though. After I took all “my” money out of it.

  • Don1357

    To every story, there must be at least 2 sides. Until I hear the girl’s “story” from a reputable source, I don’t want to make a judgement about her. There could be abuse (which comes in many forms). There could be a set of values and expectations her natural parents fostered and supported (spoiled kid). There could be selfishness in which the natural parents decided they were just tired of paying the bills and said, “Go it on your own.” There could be a case where the parents just don’t have the money to support her “in the manner she became accustomed” while living with them. In spite of the fact that my wife and I reared 5 natural daughters (and had 14 foster children for over 10 year period of time), and were pretty no-nonsense parents with house rules and strong expectations for behavior at and away from home–I am willing to give this young lady the benefit of the doubt until we hear her story. I believe there is more to this story that we haven’t gotten, yet.

    • Maureen Walsh

      Don1357 …. I think you have managed to summarize my thoughts for me. I have been posting on some friends fb pages something to this effect but you nailed it. The couple of things I would add (coming from a medical/psychological stand point) is that does she have an undiagnosed psychological disorder? (Sociopath, narcissistism, etc.) Unfortunately, it does said she has history of bulimia which then of course one has to think about ocd., I have to wonder the relationship between this friends father and this 18 year old.. what possesses an educated, adult, parent to get involved as he is? Regardless of the situation, I agree with you and don’t want to pass judgement on her, however, I do not think the parents should be responsible for her at 18 years old. She made her choice. I do hope they can get thru this and find peace. Hopefully Dr. Phil will get involved….

  • Mara Cain

    Have to wonder, why is her friends’Dad so interested in all of this? Perhaps there is something in it for him? Just a thought.

  • Linda Rivera

    Surely there is room for compromise. It’s too bad we don’t know both sides of the story. I personally feel if a child turns 18 and leaves home for good she/he is no longer a dependent of the parents. If it was my child I would offer to pay a reasonable amount for tuition and books and check to see that my child was actually attending classes. It would also depend on what understanding the parents had with their child about paying for college. This should have been settled before the child made the decision to leave home.

  • Nick in Mass

    At 18, she’s on her own. And no where is it written (in law) that a parent(s) must pay for college for their child. College or any post high school education is optional. If she is so gifted getting high grades, she should have no problem getting any number of scholarships to pay her own way through college, even if it is the local community college and not one of the Ivy League schools that it sounds like she wants to go to. It sounds way too much like she wanted to live by her own rules . Her father even mentions that they wanted her to be respectful which means her mouth probably got her into a lot of trouble with her parents. I hope both sides can come to an understanding and patch up their relationship, but it won’t happen if she has a chip on her shoulder.

  • Dale

    This girl needs more gratitude and way less attitude!

  • Tami

    Wow… I’m taking care of an 18-year old who was kicked out by HER wealthy parents, has asked over & over to move back home, but is told “they’ll think about it” and eventually gets some excuse like “your sister doesn’t want you back home” or “only if you stop smoking e-cigs” (since she DID stop smoking cigarettes per their request). I live on SSDI & cannot afford to support THEIR child, however, “I” cannot throw her out onto the streets. The parents FINALLY agreed to pay for community college (instead of the University that she was accepted to when she graduated – where her parents did NOT attend the graduation!) – So she IS attending college PT and working part-time. Yes, in THIS case – I believe the parents have a responsibility here to pay ME child support or to pay HER means of living while she is attending college and working part-time trying her best to make ends meet (which is impossible for her at this point). This NJ case… Hard to say – if it’s simply about not wanting to follow rules… I’m with the parents – I’ve got teenagers (and a 20-year old) as well & I KNOW how stubborn they can be! :/

  • Some guy

    What a spoiled little brat. Yeah maybe her parents were strict, but it’s still their money. In some states you’re legally an adult at 17. And she goes further to claim that her dad invited her down to play beer pong and her mom called her fat. Typical. What grown adult plays beer pong? I’m calling BS. That would like me telling the authorities that my dad let me have a glass or two of wine before I was 21, which I’m pretty sure is legal depending on the state you live in. Seriously there are kids whose parents put welts on their backs and this snobby NJ girl is wasting everybody’s time b/c mom and dad cut her off. Tough luck, kid.