Are parents legally required to support a teenager who moves out at 18?
This is an issue before a New Jersey court. In October, 2013, 18-year-old Rachel Canning moved from her home to a friend’s home. Rachel is a senior in high school and is a cheerleader, on the honor roll and plays lacrosse. However, not all is as rosey as it sounds.
Her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning, explain that Rachel had been caught drinking and they didn’t like a boy she was dating. She was also reportedly suspended from school. So, as many parents do, they set some rules for her to follow. Not happy with the rules, she moved out and had no contact with her parents until March, 2014.
Rachel contacted a lawyer who filed a lawsuit against her parents seeking living costs and tuition. Rachel claims that her parents imposed “severe and excessive verbal and physical abuse.” At a hearing on March 4, 2014, the judge denied a request for emergency financial assistance. He encouraged Rachel and her parents to seek counseling before the next hearing in April.
Do you think this is an issue that should be in court? Do judges need to intervene in family matters of this type? Although, Rachel is 18 and legally an adult, since she is in high school her parents may have some responsibility under the law until she graduates. Every state has its own laws on this issue and specific laws about child support. You have to look to the laws in your state to see where you stand.
Update: On or about March 12, 2014, the lawsuit was reportedly settled and Rachel returned home to her parents. A motion to dismiss the case was filed with the court on March 18, 2014. No details were announced. We wish the family the best as they move on. As it turned out, Rachel got a break in her finances. She posted in March, 2014 that she received a scholarship to Western New England University in Massachusetts. The school confirmed that she is a recipient of a merit scholarship but did not disclose the amount due to student privacy laws. Rachel stated it is for $56,000.
In a similar case, Caitlyn Ricci of New Jersey successfully sued her parents for college tuition. The court ruled in Caitlyn’s favor, ordering Michael Ricci and Maura McGarvey to help with her out-of-state tuition at Temple University to the tune of $16,000 per year. Reportedly, Caitlyn has not had a relationship with her parents in two years.