High School Girl Claims Parents Cut Her Off At Age 18, Sues Them For College Tuition
In other words, cheerleader and lacrosse player Rachel Canning is suing her parents for immediate financial support. She filed a certification with the court declaring that on Oct. 29, 2013 her parents decided that as of Nov. 1, her 18th birthday, she would be cut off âfrom all support financially and emotionally.â
Rachelâs lawyer, Tanya N. Helfand, has prepared a list of demands for parents Sean and Elizabeth Canning. Included amongst her demands are that the Cannings pay Rachelâs current living and transportation expenses, and commit an existing college fund to their daughter.
Rachel, who has received several acceptance letters from universities, wants her parents to pay for her college education. The Cannings have stopped paying Rachelâs Morris Catholic tuition bill; the settling of the $5,306 bill is also amongst Helfandâs demands.
Additionally, Helfand has requested that the Cannings pay their daughterâs legal fees, which already total over $12,000.
The high school student has been living with her best friend Jaime Inglesinoâs family in Rockaway Township. Jaimeâs father, attorney John Inglesino, hired Helfand and is funding the lawsuit.
âMy parents have rationalized their actions by blaming me for not following their rules,â Rachel states in her court papers, adding also that her parents âstopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school.â
Sean Canning, meanwhile, maintains that his daughter is presenting a skewed version of what happened in the family. He has said that Rachel was never thrown out â instead, she voluntarily left home in October.
Sean has said that he fears his daughter is being âenabledâ by âwell-intentioned but ill-informed peopleâ, including the Inglesinos.
âWe love our child and miss her,â Canning has said. âThis is terrible. Itâs killing me and my wife. We have a child we want home.â
He stated that Rachel moved out because she didnât want to abide by ordinary, simple household rules, such as adherence to a curfew and regularly completing chores. He has also said that Rachelâs college fund is available to her and has not, as she claimed, been withdrawn or re-allocated.
In court, Helfand explained that when processing claims for emancipation, New Jersey state law examines whether the child in question âhas obtained an independent status of his or her own.â Thus, merely turning 18 years old is not an automatic reason to stop financial support.
âA child is not emancipated until theyâre on their own,â said family-law attorney Sheldon Simon, who added that this lawsuit is highly unusual. âEven if a child and the parents donât get along, that doesnât relieve the parents of their responsibility.â
Also included in the court record is a letter from Morris Catholic English instructor and campus minister Kathleen Smith, who claims she witnessed a ârough encounterâ between Rachel and her mother in October. According to Smith, Elizabeth told Rachel that she didnât want to speak to her daughter again.
Contradicting this record is Sean Canningâs statement that a Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) representative visited their home last fall. The representative found nothing amiss, âdetermined that Rachel was âspoiledâ and discontinued the investigation.â
Canning has also said that his daughter had been seeing a therapist before moving out, and is supposed to be taking medication.
Rachel and Helfand are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
Sources: http://www.usatoday.com, http://www.nydailynews.com