Daughter sues parents for financial support after turning 18

N.J. Burkett reports from Denville.
March 4, 2014 3:43:47 AM PST
A New Jersey high school honor student and cheerleader is suing her own parents.

Rachel Canning, 18, claims her parents threw her out and are now making her foot the bill for college. Her dad says it's not true.

"We're being sued by our own child," said dad Sean Canning. "I am dumbfounded, so is my wife and other daughters."

His daughter Rachel is a senior at Morris Catholic High School in New Jersey. In court papers, she alleges her parents abandoned her when she turned 18 and are now refusing to pay for her to go to college despite the fact she's gotten acceptance letters from several universities. Her father tells a different story.

"I know Rachel is A. a good kid and B. an incredibly rebellious teen, and she's getting some terrible information," Sean Canning said.

He claims she ran away in November because she didn't want to follow house rules.

"It is very few rules," Sean Canning said. "There are minor chores, curfews. When I say curfew it is after 11 o'clock at night."

Rachel Canning declined comment. She is staying with her best friend's family - attorney and freeholder John Inglesino. He is funding the lawsuit, saying it's the only way the bright and focused teen will be able to go to a college appropriate for her to become a biomedical engineer. Rachel, who has a $20,000 scholarship, says the University of Vermont, a private college, is her first choice.

"We have a college fund available, but it is the equivalent of shopping at a high end and sending us the bill," Sean Canning said.

Rachel says she didn't run away but was given the option of dumping her boyfriend or getting out.

"Me and my wife are distraught," Sean Canning said.

Both sides will be in court on Tuesday. Rachel Canning wants the court not to emancipate her because under the law a parent has an obligation support their children if they can't stand on their own financially.

The parents also refuse to pay for the rest of her Catholic high school education.

"There privileges to living in my house... living under our roof," Sean Canning said.

Canning is a retired police chief who says like many other American households, his household has rules. But he says Rachel chose to leave home in a dispute over curfews and chores.

Rachel is now living in Rockaway, New Jersey. The court hearing Tuesday will be the first time Sean Canning will see his daughter since October of last year.