Teen Sues Parents in New Jersey, Really?

Teen Sues Parents

New Jersey courts are now worried about setting a dangerous precedent as a teen sues parents in New Jersey. Every parent’s worst nightmare is really being realized by the two parents in New Jersey as their teen daughter sues them in an ongoing legal battle that is not expected to end until after April. Yes, by now everyone has heard of the teenage Rachel Canning who is suing her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning, for tuition for her final year of private school, tuition for the college of her choice, legal fees and more.

As the media has been having a field day with this lawsuit where a teen sues parents, it seems that everyone is taking a side, but just which side is the right side in a situation like this one? Well according to the judge ruling over the case, Judge Peter Bogaard, the right side for now is the defense, Rachel’s parents. Judge Bogaard ruled just recently that the teen was showing blatant disrespect for her parents and has currently denied her lawsuit with some harsh words that were given in court. He said, “Have you ever seen a young adult show such disrespect to a parent…?” My guess is many parents would answer yes. (Though “teen sues parents” is probably not the most shocking headline the news has seen.)

Though the judge is currently denying the case he did set a court date to revisit the case on April 22 to determine if the parents should have to pay for Rachel’s college tuition. So what started all of this madness of child versus parents in the court of law?

Back in October of 2013 Rachel Canning decided to leave home to live on her own, or did she? Well, that all depends on who the listener believes. Rachel proceeded with the court case on the event that she states her parents, Sean and Elizabeth, kicked her out. However, on the opposing side her parents stated that they simply asked her to follow the rules, which she refused to do by not meeting curfew, not doing chores, and especially not ending a relationship with her boyfriend who the parents thought was “bad news”. In fact, Sean and Elizabeth stated in court that they have invited Rachel to come home. Rachel’s lawyer says that the parents have not contacted Rachel even once since Rachel left the house.

Rachel’s parents stated that the teen has been very troubled in the several months leading up to her leaving the house. They stated that she was suspended from school, kicked out of ministry at her school, and also taken down from captain of her cheerleading squad.

So who is to blame, the parents or the teen?

As the teen began her case in New Jersey, suing her parents for money, Rachel told the court that she not only was kicked out of the house but had also experienced abuse and neglect in her household, though her father is a former police chief who was investigated and cleared. She also stated that she is a top honor student who plans to continue her education in biomedical engineering. She claims that she has a scholarship worth $20,000 but without assistance for tuition she would not be able to afford to go to her school of choice. She also has an outstanding tuition balance at her current school. Though not only is she asking for the money to pay the tuition, she is also asking for money to support her expenses while she continues to live on her own until she finished her degree.

Rachel’s dad stated in court that he is not refusing to pay her tuition, though many reports say that her parents are, in fact, refusing to pay her tuition. Sean also said in court that paying for Rachel’s tuition and expenses would be like allowing her to go shopping “at a high-end store and sending somebody the bill.”

While neither side has been proven completely right or wrong the case continues to be a “he said, she said” type of argument. Lawyers have stated that if Rachel wants to win the case on the re-visit in April she will have to prove that she was abused and was kicked out of the home.

Comments on news and social media also show a “slippery-slope” over the court case. On one hand if Rachel is not able to get an education it could severely hinder her future, though on the other hand commenters are stating that Rachel is simply a “spoiled brat” who has no right to her parent’s money.

Which side is the right side? Well many who are witnessing this real battle in taking place in New Jersey courts have said that there are no winners when a teen sues parents. Though, for now, the court case is expected to continue on in April.

By Crystal Boulware

CBS News
New York Post
BBC News
CNN News

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