Teen-angel sues mom and dad

Rachel is now suing her parents for her cost-of-living expenses as well as current and future tuition fees.

Teen-angel sues mom and dad

Rachel Canning is 18 years old. According to her school, she is an excellent student with strong results (grades in US-speak). She lives in New Jersey and would probably pass unnoticed except that she is currently suing her parents to pay for her education. For this reason, she now has 1.8 million Google results to her name.

The facts appear to be that her father and mother laid down some basic rules for the teenager; tidy room, courteous behaviour, observing a curfew, household chores and perhaps an end to a relationship with a boyfriend who they felt was a bad influence. Rachel refused to abide by these rules and left home to live with a friend. She now maintains her parents should be paying for her private school fees, her future colleges fees and her living costs. Her father Sean has said that Rachel was an "incredibly rebellious teenager” who had also bullied her sister and been expelled twice from school for disciplinary problems. Rachel is currently living with her best friend whose father, a lawyer, is funding Rachel’s legal action against her parents.

The hearing, scheduled for today in the US, will discuss Rachel’s request of her parents, Sean and Elizabeth, to pay “an outstanding $5,306 Morris Catholic tuition bill, plus their daughter’s current living and transportation fees, and commit an existing college fund to her” in addition to their daughter’s (anticipated) legal fees, which are  $12,597 to date.

Rachel’s father, Sean, a retired police chief, said that a representative for child protection services had visited their family home and “found nothing amiss”.

He added that the investigation was discontinued after the officer concluded that Rachel was “spoiled.”

Read more here:


Opinion: Selfie indeed

Rachel sounds quite the high achieving, all-American girl -  cheerleader, lacrosse player, scholarship winner and honours student. It’s quite a roll call. But, to be honest, give me a low achieving daughter any day if she won’t take me to court because I expect her to abide by our house rules, not bully her sister and to pay her own way if she bails.


I know America is no longer the land of the free and is instead the land of the litigious, but is this for real that an 18-year-old can live where she wants and take her parents to court to fund, not just her living expenses, but her college fees as well? Where is the freedom in this for the parents? If living at home was a total pain in the butt – and what teenager hasn’t thought that at some stage? – then of course Rachel should be free to leave and make her own way in the world. Plenty of 18-year-olds have done that before. But to expect her parents to cough up the dough to fund her lifestyle – wherever and with whomever she wants – is crazy gone mad.

Maybe Rachel is spoilt, maybe she is not. But obtaining a court settlement forcing her parents to pay for her future living costs would certainly help her become so. Life is hard, there are no free kicks. Rachel clearly doesn’t have a lot of time or concern for her parents or she would go and see them and try to sort this mess out, one presumes. The fact her friend’s dad is a lawyer is plain bad luck as few lawyers want dispute resolution over a court case. So here she is, heading into a court battle which will test the resolve of all associated. Good luck to the adjudicators – and if I may say so, I, for one, hope Rachel’s parents get to keep their hard-earned savings.

What say you? Does Rachel have a point, if not a strong case? Should parents be obligated to pay their kids further education costs regardless of their behaviour in the family home?


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    Happy cyclist
    5th Mar 2014
    I smelt a rat the minute I read about the number of Google hits. Suspect the whole thing is dreamed up to cash in on her 'popularity', she'll probably do a daily blog and millions of people who don't have enough to occupy their lives will follow her, she'll cash in big through advertising and may or may not drop the case .... welcome to the world today!
    5th Mar 2014
    I think you've nailed it in one! And wouldn't be at all surprised if lawyer friend is cashing in too!
    5th Mar 2014
    Tend to agree Happy cyclist. The internet is brilliant for accessing all sorts of valuable (and otherwise) information BUT it can still be used by moronic air heads to gain attention.

    Gaining solid academic grades is no guarantee that the person is actually intelligent!
    5th Mar 2014
    RIDICULOUS!!!! Somebody needs to put Rachel over their knee and spank her little bottom. And I don't think much of the friend's Lawyer father, I wonder what he stands to gain..... beside his fee, I wonder at the boarding costs he plans on charging her from her settlement (assuming she is living in his house)... I consider he is probably more to blame for this farce than her, he must be desperate for clients.
    Star Trekker
    5th Mar 2014
    Totally agree with you Tinkerbell.
    She left home therefore she should forfeit any help from her parents. She is an adult and should get off her backside and get a part-time job like everyone else does.
    5th Mar 2014
    If Rachel wins the court case, her friend's father (the lawyer), just may get his just desserts because his own daughter will see how it is done and do the same to him….. YES!
    5th Mar 2014
    Self-centred little so and so! However I do think the parents should pay her education fees and accommodation fees as long as she is prepared to work hard. I have a daughter with loads of ability, I paid her accommodation fees and her father paid her food and books, twice, but she didn't honour the deal. Because she has brains she has a very good job and always has had but she didn't get the academic qualifications for which she had the capability however I think she is a similar type to the current little miss. Very disappointing, you raise them to be decent people but you can not change the personality and their natural inclination.
    6th Mar 2014
    I was delighted to hear that she was blasted by the judge :-)
    5th Mar 2014
    If she will not abide by the house rules which seem quite mild to some and she has left home then the parents are no longer required to sponser here for anything. The fact that a lawyer frien is currently involved in this makes one wonder how good a friend he was to the parents.
    5th Mar 2014
    I don't know at what age you are considered an adult in New Jersey but assuming it is in fact 18 and not 21, then this girl is no longer a child and she has made her choice. She is clearly spoiled and has a well developed 'entitlement' gene. If she doesn't like the rules at 'home' and has left, then she also doesn't like the financial dependence being at home brings.

    I do think that this close to the end of high school the parents should pay the school fees. However, if she is qualified to go to university then she should finance it herself. She would not be the first student who has worked to put herself through university and will not be the last. According to other reports she has been offered a $20,000 scholarship at her first choice university. She should take it and get a part-time job like thousands of others do every year.

    Also according to other reports she has made some very serious allegations of abuse in support of her case that have already been found to be false. One also has to question the motives of the lawyer family friend who is aiding her behaviour and law suit. It remains to be seen how the US law will view the whole case. It does highlight though the extent to which teens will go to get their way.

    Australia is only a step behind. Consider the unruly teens here that run away for perfectly good homes because they don't like the rules and are then aided and abetted by Centrelink to remain living away from home.
    5th Mar 2014
    Rachel is a narcissist. Her friend's father should be ashamed. At 18 she can leave home, get a job, share a cheap apartment and support herself. It may not be the privileged life she thinks she deserves but too bad.
    Nan Norma
    5th Mar 2014
    If Rachel lived here her parents would have to keep her if she was a student or unemployed. Centrelink wouldn't pay as she is under 25. I agree she is a spoilt brat, but who made her like that?
    5th Mar 2014
    Point taken about the spoilt bit.

    Curious about the Centrelink thingy….. if someone is unemployed and not living at home, they can still get unemployment benefits, I thought and even if they are a student living away from home, they can get a student allowance. With the student allowance though, they have to prove absolute independence, if their parents are wealthy though (asset or income), which is where the 25 years old comes into it, I guess.

    It is interesting to note that for medical insurance purposes, the child comes under the parents family insurance, until they reach 25 years.

    So…. Nan Norma, you have raised an interesting aspect. About 'independence' year…. 18 or 25. Although, I do have trouble with the 25 bit…. you can drink alcohol, you can join the armed forces and kill people, at 18… so why are they still the parents responsibility until 25????
    Nan Norma
    5th Mar 2014
    It is correct. Unless parents can show they are on a low income they are responsible to keep their children untill they are 25yrs. Only if the 'child' has already been working for a year can they be classed as indepenent. I know a school teacher, he has three children under 25, all at university, and has to keep them all.A person under 25 must prove it is impossible for them to live at home to claim from Centrelink eg abuse.
    5th Mar 2014
    Given that Rachel attends a Catholic College, it would be fair to assume the family is of Christian beliefs. Therefore Rachel is in clear breach of two of the ten commandments. "honour thy father and thy mother" "thou shalt not bear false witness"! She appears to be a "law" unto herself! Defying her Parents and her religious upbringing. What a precocious brat she is! Who is she to make demands on her Parents, when she is not prepared to be part of the family and all that entails? What the Parents ask in return for funding her Schooling etc., is miniscule compared to the chores allocated to plenty of other children.
    She should be ordered home to reside and be compliant, failure to do so, will mean she is without financial support from her parents. I did read elsewhere that by agreement with her parents, before all this commotion, Rachel had agreed to transfer to a less expensive College, still with the same quality of education. If this is true, and Rachel defied her Parents and continued to stay at the expensive college after she left home, then I do not believe her Parents owe for the outstanding school fees.
    Tom Tank
    5th Mar 2014
    Isn't that an assumption that because she goes to a Catholic school that the family have Christian beliefs?
    Surely any belief system, religious or otherwise, would have the attitude that at 18 she can do what she likes BUT she has to carry her own costs if she won't accept her parents reasonable conditions.
    At 18 one is old enough to be sent to war despite a parents objection so at that age they are considered adult therefore they must accept adult responsibilities.
    5th Mar 2014
    I hung up the phone -
    it was one of my adult children -
    I turned to my friend -
    A barrister -
    Totally pissed off yet again
    I said to him
    "when litigation come to Australia from America, if they ever make money, I will sue my children for pain & suffering & loss of income,"
    He said
    "litigation is here, when ever you are ready."

    I am not taking sides
    Advice for the parents of this girl -
    Was she a good & cooperative kids to her parents
    Did she bond with her parents from infancy or was she a dissociated child.
    There are all side to a story.
    Having a brain is not enough
    5th Mar 2014
    My mother always said
    "5 children & not one of them takes after you,"
    His GENES were stronger -
    Also I am a hard working, thinking, intelligent, caring person.
    This type of person is considered a "SUCKER" to lazy good-for- nothings.
    And certainly, it's too much hard to take on board such aspects of personality - easy is where it's at.
    All a parent wants is for their child to be happy
    So look the other way & move on, is my advice.
    5th Mar 2014
    We cling to OUR CHILDREN in an unrealistic, romantic fashion.
    We have been brainwashed into a soap opera type mind set.
    Children are not children, & they should stay at home forever & the parents pay suffer & tolerate.
    They are little individuals that are self oriented from day one & need to be cared for & given guidance & supervision by many -
    It is the government who has come out, time & again & urged & indeed given financial incentive for couples to breed.
    It is the media that romanticises parenthood.
    There is nothing romantic or blessed about wasting the best years of your life killing yourself for an ungrateful KID -
    You have never heard your blessed child talk about you behind you back - blaming you for not having succeeded in life - when all the while the lazy brat did nothing to help it's self & at your expense.
    On how sharper than a serpents tooth, the love of a thankless child.
    Nan Norma
    5th Mar 2014
    This story made me think of a mother I know. Her son was at university. She and her husband were paying the fees. She began to have doubts as to whether he was actually going. In the end she went and asked if he had passed his final exams. She was told they couldn't disclose any information as he was over eighteen. They couldn't tell because he was an adult yet she was required to keep him and she was paying the bills. Who says you can't have it both ways.
    5th Mar 2014
    Please remember that all YOUR CHILD has to do - at any point in time - is to walk into a POLICE STATION & SAY
    "I don't want to go home /can't go home,"
    And the cops will come around to let you know, that they now know, that you have been abusing your child & that that child is now safe & in care.
    5th Mar 2014
    Happy Cyclist has nailed it in one. This kid will earn $$$ per click on her blog thanks to the 1.8 million google hits, probably more by now.
    Just from the comments on this page you can see at a glance everyone has bought into the drama of the "spoilt" ingrate vs parents.
    Brainy yes! No ethics or morals yes! Manipulative yes! has conned friend's lawyer father, entertaining yes! look at the attention she already has.
    What a performance.
    5th Mar 2014
    I think it is endemic in many younger ladies today.

    A friend was complaining about his youngest daughter recently. She had left home about 5 years ago, & moved to Darwin with her boyfriend about 3. Splitting with the boyfriend, she came back a little before last Christmas, & asked to live in his 3 years unused granny flat.

    Some maintenance, a new fridge, hot water service & air conditioning cost him about $7000. He did not expect rent, but had expected she would pay for reconnection & bills for power & phone. She didn't.

    After a long distance romance, she has just moved back to Darwin, with a new fiancée, leaving him with a rather superfluous refurbished granny flat. She is quite well paid, but he reckons he paid for about a quarter of her new 4WD wagon, & still has a phone bill & power bill to come in.

    He was wondering if he should burn the thing down, before anyone else wants to move in. As a retiree he can't afford any of his other kids to visit like that.
    Nan Norma
    5th Mar 2014
    Who's faults that????
    Pass the Ductape
    5th Mar 2014
    Best workable solution...Swift well-aimed kick up daughter's backside...Judge agrees and tells daughter wake up.....problem solved!

    Reality....Judge agrees with daughter... Parents forced to pay... Youth once again manages to give one finger salute to decent values and common sense.

    Outcome....World slips a little further down the dunny-hole!
    The Hard Way
    5th Mar 2014
    No matter what you think about Rachel Canning, just imagine what will happen if the court rules in her favour. The flood gates are open for abuse.
    6th Mar 2014
    In Australia there is no law that a parent support an adult child, whether that child be 18, 19, or 25. If you don't want to support your adult child, I suggest you tell them to get a job or get out. It is possible, however, for an ex wife or husband, or even the adult child, to make an application to the Family Court for payment of university fees etc, just as can occur with children under 18.

    Someone has turned around the very good Centrelink guidelines and become confused. Whilst Centrelink may refuse to support the adult children of the better off amongst us (and why should taxpayers support them), the government does not 'make' parents support them.

    There are plenty of choices for unemployed/student adults under 25

    They can live at home with parents who can afford to support them, and are willing to do so.

    They can live elsewhere and their parents can foot the bill if they are willing to do so.

    They can GET A JOB and live wherever they like and do whatever they like.

    Unless there is a family court order in regard to university fees etc, they are on their own if parents choose not to support them.

    As to the mother paying the university fees, privacy laws may prevent her accessing the records of the son's progress, but no laws prevent her pulling the pin on paying his fees.

    Ditto the father who renovated the granny flat. Nobody held a gun to his head, if he paid for part of her car as well, that is a choice he made.

    I wouldn't allow my children to live off my income if they had a decent income of their own. Likewise, if I made a generous gift to my children, I wouldn't later put them down publicly for not being grateful.
    Nan Norma
    6th Mar 2014
    Mascot. I hear what your saying but does a parent have any choice if their children are in university.
    6th Mar 2014
    Mascot, in my example the father reckoned he had paid for about a third of her flash new car, by not charging her rent. He was not silly enough to give her money.

    She had professed a desire to save to buy a home. He thought he was helping. He was rather shocked she had to borrow money to ship some gear to Darwin.

    despite earning just on $60,000, & living rent free, she was flat broke.
    Polly Esther
    6th Mar 2014
    She's walking a tightrope here. Very dangerous. One little slip and she could split herself asunder.
    6th Mar 2014
    Obviously no one has explained the difference between rights and responsibilities to Rachel. Yes Rachel has a right to an education however she has the responsibility of being an adult with all that entails.

    Students in my classes in the recent past were able to quote chapter and verse on their rights too!

    However they were very annoyed that they had to take on certain responsibilities.... "but I'm a kid".........
    6th Mar 2014
    The daughter is using a very good tactic; accusing her parents of physical and verbal abuse. I can't comment on the physical abuse, but the verbal abuse is as petty as telling her to clean her room more than once, giving her a curfew and then berating her when she is late. I hope this girl is shown up along with the lawyer who I think has seen a way to gain some publicity and more cases.
    7th Mar 2014
    Of course the parents always have a choice. University students are perfectly able to support themselves if they choose to do so, by getting a job. They can work part time and study full time, they can work full time and study part time, they can work full time and study full time. I completed and Associate Diploma, 2 honours degrees and a Masters without any assistance from my parents. My daughter has just completed her degree and worked at least two jobs all the way through.
    Nan Norma
    7th Mar 2014
    Mascot Don't know where you live but sometimes, try as they may, they can't get a job. Now we have the shopping centres moving in to selve serve, there will be even less jobs for young people.
    6th Apr 2014
    An excellent initiative: it opens the way for her parents to sue her for the 250,000+ costs of her upbringing to age of majority(which she has reached) doesn't it?

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