Teen-angel sues mom and dad

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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.”

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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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Written by Kaye Fallick


Total Comments: 35
  1. 0

    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!

    • 0

      I think you’ve nailed it in one! And wouldn’t be at all surprised if lawyer friend is cashing in too!

    • 0

      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!

  2. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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!

  3. 0

    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.

  4. 0

    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.

  5. 0

    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.

  6. 0

    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.

  7. 0

    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?

    • 0

      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????

    • 0

      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.

  8. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

  9. 0

    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

  10. 0

    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.

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