Entitled Monster Files Lawsuit To Get Daddy To Pay For College Even Though She Is 18, Is Literally The Worst

  Today In Terrible Teens

Sometimes we like to check in on what entitled little monster teenagers are up to, and oh dear lord this is the best rotten teenager ever until we find a worse one. Let’s go read about Rachel Canning, who is suing her parents to try to force them to pay for her college tuition. All together now: SHE SEEMS NICE.

A Morris Catholic High School honor student and athlete who claims her parents threw her out of their Lincoln Park home when she turned 18 has taken the highly unusual step of suing them for immediate financial support and to force them to pay for her college education.

Private high school senior Rachel Canning, a cheerleader and lacrosse player who has aspirations to be a biomedical engineer, filed a lawsuit last week in the Family Part of state Superior Court in Morristown [New Jersey] that seeks a judge’s declaration that she is nonemancipated and dependent as a student on her parents for support. [...]

Rachel Canning’s lawyer, Tanya N. Helfand, will ask that parents Sean and Elizabeth Canning, who haven’t paid an outstanding $5,306 Morris Catholic tuition bill, be ordered to settle that debt, pay Rachel’s current living and transportation expenses, and commit an existing college fund to their daughter, who has received acceptance letters from several universities and has to make a decision this spring.

You will note that Ms. Canning is 18, which makes the whole “nonemancipated” thing a wee bit of a stretch since SHE IS LEGALLY AN ADULT, and emancipation of a child typically refers to a child seeking a declaration that they are legally independent BEFORE they turn 18. But Canning has found a lawyer that essentially wants to argue that you perhaps can be nonemancipated forever and ever if you just are helpless enough or go to college, which is sorta kinda true in New Jersey maybe.

In New Jersey, emancipation of a child “is a fact-sensitive analysis that looks at whether the child has moved beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and has obtained an independent status of his or her own,” Helfand said in court papers.[...] A key court decision in the state specifies that, “A child’s admittance and attendance at college will overcome the rebuttable presumption that a child may be emancipated at age 18.”

Prominent family-law attorneys Sheldon Simon and William Laufer both called the lawsuit highly unusual and Laufer said he has seen nothing like it in 40 years of practice.

“A child is not emancipated until they’re on their own,” Simon said. “Even if a child and the parents don’t get along, that doesn’t relieve the parents of their responsibility.” Laufer noted that under New Jersey law, a child can still be declared nonemancipated even if there is a hiatus between high school graduation and college.

This is a thing we did not know! Essentially what this says is that in New Jersey, sometimes a child can still be considered under her parents’ control even if she is 18 and heading to college. Cool, fair enough, except that is, again, typically used when kids WANT to be considered emancipated yet are pretty much living off of mommy and daddy. Here, young Rachel wants a legal decision that she is unemancipated and gets to behave however she wants AND live off mommy and daddy forever, just ’cause.

Let’s have the parents’ attorney lawsplain it a little bit for us, hmmmm?

“Mr. and Mrs. Canning did not tell Rachel to move out; rather they advised her that she is welcome home so long as she abides by their rules under their roof, which is completely reasonable. However, Rachel decided that she does not want to live within her parents’ sphere of influence and voluntarily moved out, essentially emancipating herself. Obviously, she cannot decide she will no longer live within her parents’ sphere of influence and simultaneously seek payment from them for support,” [Attorney Laurie] Rush-Masuret wrote the court.

Yep. What she said.

Also, you will kindly note from the above that there seems to be a wee bit of debate as to whether she quit her house or got fired from it, which is sort of a key thing here.

The father said that he and his wife did stop paying the Morris Catholic tuition and have kept Rachel’s car because they paid for it. The father contended that Rachel moved out because she didn’t want to abide by simple household rules — be respectful, keep a curfew, return “borrowed” items to her two sisters, manage a few chores, and reconsider or end her relationship with a boyfriend the parents believe is a bad influence.

Yeah, see, that doesn’t sound like being thrown out and cut off. That sounds like wanting to have your cake and eat the fuck out of it too, Rachel Canning. Many a grown person is not allowed to live under Mommy and Daddy’s roof because they are terrible adult layabouts who were overindulged as children and never grew out of it, which is pretty much how you sound. New Jersey courts, we beg of you, do not reward this behavior or you will have parents who are now legally stuck with their horrible adult offspring standing outside your doors with pitchforks in no time.

[Daily Record]

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  • Hammiepants

    Oh god, kid, shut up and fulfill your ultimate destiny at Applebee’s.

  • Jonathon Robert Cowley

    Actually, I’m on Team Entitled Millenial here. Not because she’s in the right (she’s not) but because her parents sound like terrible people and I’m okay with her sticking it to them.

    • William

      The problem becomes when the legal precedent that would be established sticks it to many other people who are not terrible people.

  • Enfant Terrible

    Reminds me of my favorite movie quote of all time. From Addams Family Values:

    “All I ever wanted was a Ballerina Barbie. In her pretty pink tutu. My birthday. I was 10, and do you know what they got me? *Malibu* Barbie. That’s not what I wanted! That’s not who I was. I was a *ballerina*, graceful, delicate! They had to go.”

  • zb77

    Sounds like another affluenza sufferer. Good luck to her parents.

  • docterry6973

    Tossing her out seems harsh, but (this bulletin just handed to me!) life is unfair. And then you die.

    • AmusedAmused

      It’s not “life” that tossed her out. It’s her parents.

  • BruceMcGlory

    Since all we have is the parents’ claim that they didn’t throw her out, against her claim that they did, it seems a little premature to insult her. Would we be so quick to call her a lazy entitled brat if she’d been kicked out for being gay and then the parents denied it just to avoid parental responsibilities?

    • William

      Even if that were the case (no indication of it here obviously) while it would make the parents horrible people, it would still be within their rights to kick her out. At some point (18 in this and many countries) you are on your own no matter how much that may suck.

      • Sue4466

        I think Bruce’s point was more abut the name calling, not about the legality of the kicking out.

      • Annie Towne

        Not necessarily. As noted above, colleges will count you as dependent until you have lived separately from your parents for (last I knew) a full year at least, or until you get married. And now, under the Affordable Care Act, dependence on one’s parents throughout the college years is acknowledged in the “covered till 26″ provision. I think this is an interesting and complex case. It makes me sad, though, that they can’t work it out.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    Twenty years and six divorces from now, I am sure Rachel will regret this.

  • beccamarieb

    Hi, here’s the thing – Emotional manipulation through cash isn’t great parenting. Also, failing to express unending gratitude to ones parents is not “entitlement.” Yes, lots of people get by without help from parents, but lots don’t have to (and sanctimony about bootstrapping is obnoxious). It is not unreasonable for a child that has been told that she’ll receive money for college to expect to receive money for college.

    • thepoliticalcat

      It’s not *her* money, though. Nobody is entitled to someone else’s earnings beyond the minimum provided by law and up to a certain age or in recognition of certain disabilities. You can’t kick your kid out of the house because they have a disability that makes them incapable of supporting themselves. But you have every right to kick your kid out of the house the day after they hit 18, for no reason at all, or for any.

      • beccamarieb

        You can kick them out, sure. But 1) just because you can doesn’t mean it’s ethical and 2) a child turning 18 doesn’t necessarily mean all financial obligations end. It’s relatively common for courts to compel parents who are able to pay for college as part of a divorce, for example. It isn’t a cut and dry situation legally, and it certainly isn’t a cut and dry situation morally/ethically/whatever.

  • Joseph

    Give her her college money, Give the boyfriend a new guitar. Send them on a two week honeymoon and while they are gone, move.

  • MsAnthropesMr

    I haz conflicted feels on this. On one hand: Spoiled Millenial! Can’t Abide By Rules! On the other: I can’t really put my finger on it, but something feels rotten in the State of NJ.

  • Greg Comlish

    I love the logic. “You got accepted in college; accordingly, your adulthood has been postponed.”

  • AmusedAmused

    In all fairness — while I’m not discounting the possibility that we have an entitled brat here, or maybe a combination of an entitled brat and douchebag parents — colleges (and the federal and state governments) don’t care if you are legally an adult. They expect the parents to pay, and parents’ income is taken into account when determining financial aid. You don’t get extra financial aid just because mom and dad decided they’d rather not pay your tuition. So the parents can effectively prevent a child from getting a college education, even though the child is 18. And given the skyrocketing costs of even state schools, and the abysmal job market, the option of putting oneself through school by flipping burgers, or doing janitarial work, or stripping is increasingly unrealistic.
    Given that she seems to be an academically-together kid, I suspect her parents’ problem is less with her being a cokehead or a layabout or whatever and more with a lack of unquestining obedience. And the fact that these parents are punishing her by denying her education suggests this situation isn’t as clearcut as the article makes it seem. Sure, the parents may not have a legal duty to support her. But I suspect THEY are the asshats here.

    • malilo

      Yeah, that happened to me. It really sucked to be told that my “estimated family contribution” to my education was $15k/year when in fact it was zero (other than what I made waiting tables, after rent which was hahahahaha nothing). However, I did not blame my parents because honestly my mom is a basket case who never worked and my poor dad was not in a position to donate 1/4 of his income to me. So like a true American patriot, I took on a mountain of debt that I’m still paying off in my 30s. But at least I got edumacated!

    • Yawapi

      Parental income is only included if someone is claimed as a dependent on the previous year’s income tax return. Regardless, parents are under zero obligation (legally) to pay for college for their kids. If this woman wants her parents to pay what she needs to do is move back home and abide by the rules of the house – not sue her parents for something she’s not legally entitled to receive.

      I hope a stint in the “real world” will help her grow up.

      • Sue4466

        That was not true in my case. I didn’t live at home, I’d supported myself since I was about 15, my mother did not claim me on her taxes as a dependent, and yet her income counted in my financial aid calculation.

        • SullivanSt

          Both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile currently have a question asking whether you were claimed as a dependent, and if not you do not have to supply details of parental assets and income.

          • Courtney Horne

            Well since she was a minor during 2013, it seems likely she will be claimed as a dependent for their 2013 taxes causing the FAFSA for next years school year to require their financial information to be considered. Plus for the next year, I am pretty sure from my own tax and fafsa experience it is based on whether someone “could” claim you as a dependent not on whether they did and you “can” be claimed by your parents while you are in school up to a certain age.

            Oh and not paying for the private school they enrolled her in while she was still a minor seems super messed up as well. It isn’t like she could have made the decision to enroll in the school and accrue that cost without their consent as a minor and so they accepted the responsibility of paying for it when they enrolled her.

        • arrrghle

          Yep this is how it went for my 21-year-old daughter who had been financially independent for three years and was living 1000 miles away from me–her financial aid advisor still required my income information for her FAFSA. Although I am willing to believe the advisor was wrong.

      • AmusedAmused

        That wasn’t true for me. My father didn’t claim me as a dependent, and his income still counted. I ultimately had to take out extra private loans, but was only able to do so because my mom co-signed for me. Which isn’t an option for this girl.

        Also, lest we forget — the parents didn’t pay for the last semester of high school, an obligation that was quite possibly incurred BEFORE this girl turned 18. Being owed money, the school would be within its rights to withhold her transcript and diploma — so even though she technically graduated, she would have difficulty getting jobs that require a high school diploma (such as going into the military, for instance) even if she decided to forego college. I wonder how many people here, who sanctimoniously say this girl needs a stint in the “real world” to “grow up” have ever had the taste of the kind of “real world” where your choices for survival are so extremely limited.

        I can understand taking away her car. I can understand not paying for her vacation. I can understand not giving her any spending money. But depriving one’s child of education and moreover forcing her to pick between stocking shelves at Walmart and turning tricks behind a dumpster in order to survive — as a form of punishment for not agreeing to a curfew and not deferring to the parents in romantic matters — that’s some terrible parenting and general douchebaggery. Just because the parents, strictly speaking, have the legal right to behave this way, doesn’t mean the daughter’s reaction makes her an “entitled monster” or “literally the worst”.

  • William

    While it is quite possible that the parents are not telling the whole truth and are jerks, the fact remains that she is 18 and presumably mentally competent (in a legal sense). Her parents have the right to do what they did. FWIW a friend of mine at an old job came home the day after high school graduation and found the locks on the family home changed. Obviously harsh, cruel etc. but nonetheless legal.

    • natoslug

      I had a friend who suffered something similar. Only her parents waited until she moved out for college, then moved without telling her. She was a wee bit miffed when she went home over the winter break and found a new family living in her parents’ house.

      • http://cendax.wordpress.com/ Norbrook

        I knew someone in the Army who had that happen to him. He told his parents he wasn’t re-enlisting, and when he got out a month later and went home, found out that they’d moved away, sold the house, and left no forwarding address.

        • natoslug

          I obviously need to up my game. Next time my 14 year old goes to a sleepover, I’m moving and not leaving a forwarding address. And using his college fund to buy a case of Crystal Pepsi. Or maybe a six-pack of Jarritos. I’m not sure there is enough in the fund for the fancy stuff.

    • jkarov

      The “18 and you’re out” meme is fairly common among a certain group of (usually) lower income folks who simply have no interest in their children’s career or well being

      A hygienist at my dentist’s office told me that her (FIVE) kids are all on their own and out of the house the same day they graduate from high school. No guidance, no loans, no help with a couple of community college classes, no moving back in in case of emergencies, just get out, and so long.

      Seems like a good way to ensure getting hired by 7-11 or as someone here put it, doing tricks behind a dumpster

      • William

        I’m certainly not saying that her parents are doing the greatest job ever here, just pointing out that they can do it. Also, it is being reported already that most of her stuff has already been dismissed in the first hearing. She will get a second hearing on the college fund but probably won’t get the money.

        Also, in this case her father is a retired police chief and they were sending her to a private school so this isn’t some ignorant hillbilly kicking the litter out of the shotgun shack. All of that after 18 support that you speak of would come with some expectation of gratitude and reasonable behavior while continuing to live for free at home. If she isn’t willing to do that kicking her out seems reasonable. Taking the college fund seems a bit over the top but unless its been put in some sort of trust that legally attaches it to her my slightly informed opinion is that she will get nada.

        Obviously its a sad situation but a ruling in her favor would set a terrible precedent.

  • MrTusks

    Don’t blame the Millenial, blame the Boomer parents who made her this way.

    • Annie Towne

      I suspect you don’t have kids, for if you did, you’d know that there are many, many, many more influences on kids, especially now, than just their parents. How a person becomes what she becomes is incredibly complex; how else do you explain loving, compassionate, well-adjusted people who have been abused by their parents? It’s fun and easy to blame, but it’s not very sophisticated thinking, nor is it particularly helpful.

      • http://www.country2.blogspot.com Riggsveda

        Huzzah, that.

        And BTW, my parents refused to pay for my share of an apartment I moved into in art school when I was 18, and kept all the money from my dead mother’s SS payments, but did I sue them? Hellz no. I sold acid.

        • Annie Towne

          A very creative solution.

  • Delaney Blom

    Thanks, Obamacare!

  • natoslug

    As a parent of two overindulged, spoiled layabouts, I have to root for the terrible parents here rather than the terrible child.

  • John

    I don’t think this will matter much, as I’m sure she’ll never be able to attend college anyways, since the bridges in Jersey will be closed for a “study”

  • SullivanSt

    Emancipation is not just about children escaping terrible parents. It’s also about divorce and child support, which is typically payable until emancipation. My wife’s stipulation com her first marriage lays out that our kids will be considered emancipated on college graduation, or their 22nd birthday, whichever comes first.

  • Tommy_Fitz

    What a Brat, B-O-O—-H-O-O!!!!