Teen Honor Student Sues Parents for Cash, College Tuition

Claiming abandonment, 18-year-old Rachel Canning wants to force her parents to pay for her college.

Teen Honor Student Sues Parents for Cash, College Tuition Photo (cc) by Jack W. Pearce

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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