A New Jersey teen is suing her parents for her tuition and living expenses after they allegedly kicked her out of their home. 18-year-old Rachel Canning filed the suit against her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Cannon, in a New Jersey state family court last week. She alleges that since she is currently unemancipated and still a high school student, she continues to be financially dependent on them.
Rachel is claiming that her parents forced her out of their home just two days prior to her 18th birthday, but the Cannings tell a different story. They say that Rachel moved out voluntarily and that she isn’t being entirely truthful. They report ongoing conflict with their daughter over household rules including a refusal on Rachel’s part to comply with curfew or assist with household chores. Her father, a former police officer, has also stated that he and his wife love and miss their daughter, but do not feel obligated to support her if she is voluntarily living outside of their home because she does not wish to follow their rules. He has also said that this conflict and lawsuit are destroying their family.
In addition to requesting that her private school tuition of over $5,000 be paid by her parents for the remainder of her senior year, the New Jersey teen is requesting that the parents she says kicked her out of their home pay for her day-to-day living expenses, her transportation costs and that they make contributions to a college fund in her name.
The teen is a senior at Morris Catholic High School in Morristown, New Jersey where she is reportedly an honor student who has already been accepted to several colleges for next year and is involved in a number of extracurricular activities. Court records have revealed that her parents had already paid her tuition through the end of December 2013, but that they have not paid since. Officials from the school say that they will not expel her due to the unpaid tuition. In fact, it has been reported that several school officials are supporting her claims saying that they are aware of ongoing conflicts between her and her parents.
Rachel is apparently staying with her best friend’s family currently and it has been reported that her friend’s family is also financing her lawsuit, which has already cost them in excess of $12,000.
Family law experts in New Jersey say that the case is unprecedented in the state and have expressed concern that a victory for Rachel could “open the floodgates” to a rash of similar filings. It is a slippery slope, they say, to open up the possibility that teens dissatisfied with their parents rules could simply move out on their own and then expect their parents to continue to financially support them.
The New Jersey teen and the parents she is suing for financial support, alleging that she is still dependent on them and that they kicked her out of their home, are expected to appear in court for a hearing on the case on Tuesday.
By Michele Wessel