Can parents say my rules or no money?

A judge has denied the initial request of  New Jersey honor student who is suing for support after she moved out of her parent’s home. The judge said it was a slippery slope that could lead to other teens suing their parents.

The crux of the argument at least according to the parents is that their daughter refused to live by the house rules, left voluntarily and then turned 18.

From AP:

“In court filings, Canning’s parents, retired Lincoln Park police Chief Sean Canning and his wife, Elizabeth, said their daughter voluntarily left home because she didn’t want to abide by reasonable household rules, such as being respectful, keeping a curfew, doing a few chores and ending a relationship with a boyfriend her parents say is a bad influence. They say that shortly before she turned 18, she told her parents that she would be an adult and could do whatever she wanted.”

Here’s the full updated story from the Associated Press:

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) — A northern New Jersey honor student who has sued to get her parents to support her after she moved out of their home had her initial request denied Tuesday by a judge who cautioned that the case could lead to a “potentially slippery slope” of claims by teenagers against their parents.

Rachel Canning had sought immediate relief in the form of $650 in weekly child support and the payment of the remainder of her tuition at Morris Catholic High School, as well as attorney’s fees.

State Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard denied those motions but ordered the parties to return to court on April 22, when they will present evidence and testimony on the over-arching question of whether the Cannings are obligated to financially support their daughter. Rachel Canning, a high school senior, has already been accepted by at least one college and is seeking to have her parents pay some or all of her tuition, attorney Tanya Helfand told Bogaard Tuesday.

Dressed in her school uniform and with several friends in the gallery, Rachel Canning didn’t speak to reporters after the hearing.

Bogaard sounded skeptical of some of the claims in the lawsuit, saying it could lead to teens “thumbing their noses” at their parents, leaving home and then asking for financial support.

“Are we going to open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an Xbox? For 13-year-olds to sue for an iPhone?” he asked. “We should be mindful of a potentially slippery slope.”

Court documents show frequent causes of parent-teenage tension — boyfriends and alcohol — taken to an extreme. In the filings, there are accusations and denials, but one thing is clear: the girl left home Oct. 30, two days before she turned 18 after a tumultuous stretch during which her parents separated and reconciled and the teen began getting into uncharacteristic trouble at school.

In court filings, Canning’s parents, retired Lincoln Park police Chief Sean Canning and his wife, Elizabeth, said their daughter voluntarily left home because she didn’t want to abide by reasonable household rules, such as being respectful, keeping a curfew, doing a few chores and ending a relationship with a boyfriend her parents say is a bad influence. They say that shortly before she turned 18, she told her parents that she would be an adult and could do whatever she wanted.

She said her parents are abusive, contributed to an eating disorder she developed and pushed her to get a basketball scholarship. They say they were supportive, helped her through the eating disorder and paid for her to go to a private school where she would not get as much playing time in basketball as she would have at a public school.

Helfand told Bogaard in court Tuesday that Rachel Canning learned her behavior from her parents, particularly her mother, with whom she has a difficult relationship.

“These people who call themselves loving parents paint the most disgusting portrait of their daughter” in the court filings, she said. “They are pointing the finger to avoid their parental responsibilities.”

A cheerleader and lacrosse player who hopes to become a biomedical engineer, Canning wants the judge to declare that she’s non-emancipated and dependent as a student on her parents for support

Attorney Laurie Rush-Masuret, representing the Canning parents, called Rachel Canning’s claims “outrageous” and said that by leaving — and by the fact that she is 18 — Rachel Canning “emancipated herself” and shouldn’t count on her parents’ support.

“There is no abuse. There is no neglect,” she said. “They are not unfit parents. She could come home tonight.”

Rachel Canning has been living in Rockaway Township with the family of her best friend. The friend’s father, former Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino, is paying for the lawsuit.

So what do you think: Fair to say my rules or no money? If they choose to leave, do parents still have to support them?

97 comments Add your comment


March 5th, 2014
12:54 am

From my perspective the girl is on her own. But if the parents won’t pay for school, hopefully they take the high road and sign the paperwork stating that she’s not associated with them when it comes to student loans. I mention this, as I left home two days after turning 18 (also two days after graduating, I can’t imagine how the whole still in high school thing works) because of a family fall out, which made paying for school was harder than it had to be, since I couldn’t get that paperwork signed (extortion tactic).


March 5th, 2014
1:06 am

Yes! Absolutely fair! I tell my 6 and 8 every day to make smart choices because every single one has a corresponding consequence. She made this choice all by her 18 year old big girl self. Now it’s time to pull up her big girl panties and face the fact that she also chose the consquence.


March 5th, 2014
5:05 am

She’s 18 and doesn’t want to abide by their rules, let her do it herself.

Single Mom

March 5th, 2014
5:07 am

You know what? She made the adult decision to seek out an attorney and follow through with the procedure for a court case. So, she can go and support herself while she is on her own without parental support. If the parents want to step in and pay for her tuition then, good for them.
I’ve ran away before as a kid but I knew that by doing so, I was going to have to support myself without any help. At 13, I knew there weren’t any job opportunities available for me so I was prepared to be homeless if need be. My parents stopped certain behaviors and begged me to come home. I felt the situation was safe, so I did just that. I’m not stupid. A warm house and a warm meal is way more appealing than not knowing who’s house you are going to crash at for the night and if you might have to sleep on the streets.
This young lady should just suck it up and say, hey look…I can’t support myself, can I move back home if I abide by the rules. If the parents are abusive, she can contact United Way for help.
There’s 2 sides to every story but I highly doubt the parents are being abusive. Most kids don’t want anything to do with their parents on a financial level if there is abuse. They just want to cut their losses and be placed in a safe situation.

I hate that I have to say this and I cringe as I type the following: This generation seems to have some sort of entitlement bestowed upon them. I hope I’m wrong but I think it’s coming from helicopter parenting.

Single Mom

March 5th, 2014
5:12 am

Okay, this is so random but can someone , preferably Theresa answer this question for me?
When an AJC blogger posts a topic at 5:00am, is theirwork day pretty much done at that point until the next day? Do they spend the rest of the time in meetings at the AJC or are they free enjoying their “free time”?


March 5th, 2014
6:33 am

Yes, absolutely fair. Our house,our rules.
@ single mom, I imagine TWG works on multiple posts daily. Blogs have a function to auto-post so it’s quite possible that she writes several posts at once. I am quite confident there is little free time in her world; three kids, cross-country relocation, selling/buying a house and all that comes with that. Add the AJC, volunteering and if she’s still teaching a class I venture her days are jam-packed as with many of us. Multiple deadlines in every level of life is my guess.


March 5th, 2014
6:34 am

Phil wrote, “and sign the paperwork stating that she’s not associated with them when it comes to student loans.”

Today it is very difficult to be declared an “independent student” at 18 and NOT have your parent’s income and assets included when the government calculates what grant money she is eligible for. She may only be able to get loans.

Single Mom

March 5th, 2014
6:37 am

malleesmom – Ooh……multiple blogs. I didn’t think of that one. Mystery solved.


March 5th, 2014
6:59 am

Not only they can–they

Sk8ing Momma

March 5th, 2014
7:15 am

My message to the girl: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

IMO, it is responsible parenting to have house rules. One’s failure to comply means that she loses the privilege (after adulthood) of living at home, including the termination of household financial support.

My guess is that there is much more to this story than reported…Sigh!


March 5th, 2014
7:20 am

You betcha! We all have choices and it seems this particular individual perhaps made an unwise choice.


March 5th, 2014
7:22 am

I rarely read or write a comment on this writers blog because it is so poorly written. This article is yet another case of that. Theresa has absolved herself of writing anything, placing quotes from the case, the judge, the attorneys, etc. Reminds me of a teenager who doesn’t want to write too many words in a school report, so voila!…..they quote lengthy excerpts. I would love to know more about this bloggers journalism education. I love the ajc and sure miss some of the strong writing of the past. This is silly.


March 5th, 2014
7:39 am

^^^^ catlady….LIKE

Can bosses say….”my rules or get another job”
Can neighborhoods say…”our rules or pay the fine”
Can teachers say….”my rules or you do not pass”
Can government say ” my rules or you go to jail”
Can apartments say” my rules or you get kicked out or pay a fine”
Can police say “my rules or you get a speeding ticket”
Can I say, ” my rules or no money”


By the way…my parents too had lots of rules and when I left for college it was my own money. I put myself through college and learned a lot about life. I learned how other families lived and about choices I could and could not make when I was on my own dime. Some were amazing and some were limited …since I worked at Wal Mart and made less than $5 per hour.

Sounds like this young lady has some learning to do too,she did not get it in private school.

In my world…writers are never DONE…we are always on the lookout for new material. Just met my nephew ( out of town) for brunch. He is in broadcast journalism and we discussed this too.

@ Blake…if you do not like the topic just skip it and leave us alone.

Mother of 2

March 5th, 2014
8:00 am

This young lady isn’t living on the streets. She’s holed up in a lovely home with a friend from school. The friend’s father is an attorney who hired the attorney representing the defendant. I think that this man, while meaning well, is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I expect that both parents and daughter are far from perfect role models, but if the parents’ rules are deemed reasonable (and they don’t sound unreasonable) this girl is going to be on her own. This family could use some counseling on communication and mutual respect. I hope they can find a way to come together as a family.


March 5th, 2014
8:02 am

Little piece of SH**T, suing her parents. She looks like a spoiled little rich beyotch who didn’t get her way. Did she not remember who took care of her when she was young. What a little creep. $650 a WEEK for an 18 year old????? WTH…

This is upsetting on so many levels. I would never in a million years take my parents to court.


March 5th, 2014
8:05 am

That is the way it worked in our house – you followed OUR rules. Unfortunately, too few households are like that today – teenagers rule the roost.

I don’t know the laws in New Jersey, but in Georgia they are clear – after 18 you are an adult and on your own. We had a situation where the Dad of my stepchildren refused to help with college, even though he made in excess of $500,000 per year. Georgia law is specific that child support is over at 18 and the parent has absolutely no requirement to pay for support of any kind.


March 5th, 2014
8:07 am

If the daughter does not like the rules of the house – fine – she should just go get a job, pay for her own room and board, and put herself through college (or not). She wants to be independent and an adult , the GO BE INDEPENDENT! Stop with the lawsuit nonsense. I hope the judge rules against her and requires that she repay all court costs and lawyer fees to her parents, even if it takes her the rest of her life.


March 5th, 2014
8:11 am

With regard to this girl, yes, I think parents can say that and the judge’s ruling was a good one. I think where it gets trickier is college. While I don’t think parents should have to pay then either, colleges do. So if you have a good kid finally escaping truly bad parents by turning 18, they may be willing to work hard and pay their own way, but they will also have limited financial aid options because their parents’ income is considered, even though parents willingness to pay is not. Do young adults have any way to legally cut ties and be considered completely independent? I assume they’re too old to be emancipated.


March 5th, 2014
8:13 am

@MJG – wonderfully said – need to use that :) – The day my daughter turned 18 she declared her independence and walked out the door – she proceeded to spend the next several years couch hopping, hanging out, mediocre jobs, etc. until she got pregnant – that was the “turning point” in her life and she is now on the right path. I asked her the other day had she not made that step where would she be now…… Thankfully she “gets” it now.

As for this situation – I am sorry for her parents – and I can only hope that they are still alive to forgive their daughter when she realizes all the venom and idle words she has spewed towards them. Rachel Canning you WILL regret this someday.

I am guessing we will see them all on Dr. Phil soon!


March 5th, 2014
8:26 am

@mrs.g – At this rate they are more likey to end up on Jerry Springer (is he still around?)
Anyway, I’m glad that we never had issues of this nature with our three. I do feel confident, however, in stating that my parents, in a similar scenario, would be editing their will, changing beneficiaries on any life insurance, etc. and basically saying, “Fine, you’re an adult and you have no rules. Good Luck with that”.


March 5th, 2014
8:32 am

When the little twirp walked out because she didn’t want to follow rules or do chores, she is on her own. Rules of my wife’s and my house: 1) This is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship. We are the law. 2) You will be respectful towards us. 3) There is no harm in telling your side, but we have the ultimate say. 4) If I deem it necessary, I will enter your room unannounced and will go through your belongings. 5) Follow the rules and the whole world is open to you along with privileges, gifts and perks. Refuse to follow them and punishment will be swift and decisive. It’s as simple as that.


March 5th, 2014
8:35 am

HB…I got no assistance in college as my parents would not fool with the financial aid. My last semester, I was 22, I got $64. REALLY?

I will say that there were plenty of things I disagreed with while at home with my parents. One of these things was my HS boyfriend. My father could not stand him. He eventually broke up with me because of the pressure. I was devastated. We are in touch now, as is most everyone from our small HS class on Facebook.. He is married and a Grandpa. He also plays in a successful band and has had a good career. My life would be VERY different if I had gone that route. Who knows if I would be happy. I would still be in a small town in Arkansas. I enjoy seeing where my HS friends are but their life is very different from mine in a rural setting.

My husband and I were watching something on TV this week and while surfing, saw a young man who was arguing about his girlfriend. The Dad said, ” You are 16…this is NOT the one.” We laughed and got a kick out of it. Luckily we have not had that issue here. I wouldn’t mind some grandchildren in a few years though.


March 5th, 2014
8:54 am

I always think of it this way:”Life is tough, it’s even tougher when you’re stupid.” Thanks for the words of wisdom, Duke, R.I.P
Time of this girl to find out what being an adult really means..


March 5th, 2014
9:17 am

Yes, follow the rules or you are on your own at 18. The parents would be doing a disservice to society if they just waited until she was of age and then let this kid out into the world where she would make more people miserable with her inability to function properly and follow the rules of civilization. Which is where they seem to get all of the contestants for shows such as The Real World…… so she might have a future after all!


March 5th, 2014
9:18 am

If you don’t like your parents rules, then go but don’t expect any support. I was one of those teenagers who left home because I didn’t like the rules. I grew up under very extreme religious circumstances where I was not allowed to do anything. I did not fight my parents while I lived in their home. However, two weeks after I graduated high school, I packed my belongings (much to their surprise) and left. Luckily, I had a scholarship to university. I did not ask for neither did they give me one thin dime. I graduated 4 years later (mostly homeless during the breaks) but I never looked back.

I was fine with rules. Children need boundaries. However, I lived under extreme circumstances. I was allowed to go to school, work (when I had a job) and church. Nothing else. Unfortunately my parents continued to hold all their children with a level of unreasonableness. Three more daughters moved out at 18; the last on her 18th birthday. None of us complained, we just lived our lives. All four of us are well adjusted and successful in our chosen career paths.

Hopefully, this young lady will see the error of her ways and be the grown up that she claims to be.


March 5th, 2014
9:22 am

Wow this is such a sad situation. The parents ‘won’ but lost something infinitely more valuable and that is a daughter. Not saying they should have folded. I fully agree with their approach but it is still so sad.


March 5th, 2014
9:25 am

MJG, you are a perfect example to me of this problem. Hard-working, independent, yet dependent on your unwilling parents to apply for financial aid (and if they had, amount would have been determined by their income, not yours from Walmart). There needs to be a way that young adults can be independent and eligible for aid based on their independent means.


March 5th, 2014
9:48 am

duh yeah! over 40 yrs ago i got told “it’s my way or the highway” once i turned 18. i chose to move out on my own. my mother was horribly strict, so it was work, home, church. that was it. no dating, no going out, even though i was “of legal age”. so i chose to move out. i’ve struggled, but you either play by the rules of the house or go it alone.

devil's advocate

March 5th, 2014
9:50 am

While I suspect the case is one where the parents shouldn’t have to pay her support money (although they may legally be on the hook for her high school tuition depending on documents they may have signed), what if there’s really something there that she just hasn’t said openly about? Sometimes the strictest parents are hiding something. Sometimes rebellion has roots in abuse of one sort or another.

We don’t know – so while I think there’s good reason for debate, let’s temper it with some kindness and recognition that we actually don’t know the facts, so making judgments about either the girl or the parents shouldn’t be the way to go unless we’re acknowledging that they’re only “if” statements.

I actually hope, for all concerned, that she’s just a spoiled girl.

(the other) Rodney

March 5th, 2014
10:00 am

Absolutely. The fact that it’s even a question nowadays is baffling.


March 5th, 2014
10:06 am

The friend / family she is currently living with are enablers, thus allowing her to take it this far. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this same story without the national media involved. There is always going to be someone that the brat can go to for sympathy until they find out said “victim” is a total liar. In practically every incident I have heard about the parents are eventually vindicated. The enabler needs to learn from their mistakes, but they often don’t. They see themselves and friends and compassionate souls. As our society and younger generations see continue to see entitlement and dependency as their “Rights”, except much more of the same. It’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

just me

March 5th, 2014
10:07 am

@ single mom

I think its a freelance situation. You post an article everyday and get paid but no meetings, she doesn’t even have to leave her house because she doesn’t actually work for the AJC.

Anyway, the article I read a couple days back said that the parents told her to lose her boyfriend that they didn’t approve of or hit the bricks and she chose to hightail it to her best friend’s house. This lawyer is the father of that best friend I believe. I’m starting to have a feeling that this boyfriend and this ‘lawyer’ might be the same person.

Either way, she’s 18, she’s on her own.


March 5th, 2014
10:15 am

@HB – I agree, it’s very difficult to be emancipated from your parents at 18 UNLESS you get married or have a child (great options for 18 year olds with no education, right?). Otherwise you are tied to your parents for financial aid purposes, even if they will not contribute.

We had a girl in our youth group who was in a toxic situation at home and moved in with a couple in our church when she was a senior in HS. The parents refused any support but when the girl applied to college, she still had to put her parents on her FASFA because she was not emancipated. The couple who took her in co-signed on private student loans for her first year and then helped her file the paperwork to get emancipated by her sophomore year. It was not an easy path without an attorney but another friend from church helped them navigate that path.I do think if this girl just wanted to cut ties, the attorney should have just worked on getting her emancipated and not suing the parents.

For the private school tuition, I would venture to guess the parents are obligated to pay that since the parents typically sign a contract for private school (we had to every year for our son).

Don't Tread

March 5th, 2014
10:18 am

“Absolutely. The fact that it’s even a question nowadays is baffling.”

I agree…but the fact that it’s a question reveals how far left this society has drifted on social issues, including the entitlement mentality.

So, which is dumber...

March 5th, 2014
10:38 am

Enter your comments here

Single Mom

March 5th, 2014
10:53 am

Just Me- How can I get a gig like that?

Me 2

March 5th, 2014
10:58 am

@devil’s advocate There is NOTHING wrong with this girl. The gal and nerves of her to sue her parents that have been taking care of her for 17 years.

I think she has been planning this for a minute, trying to find out the law and then turn 18 to collect a check. She should get absolutely nothing, let her friends parents take care of her. She thought she was slick and her plan may backfire on her @$$ Ugh! I hope this doesn’t become a trend…I can’t get what I want so I’m going to sue my parents.


March 5th, 2014
10:59 am

That’s interesting, Techmom. I assumed emancipation wasn’t an option for a legal adult. I had my own problems with my stepfather. I won a number of academic scholarships, fortunately, but he had made it clear that none of his income would go toward my education (and complained bitterly about my mom contributing $1,500 per year from her income). The forms, though, required that his income be included since I lived in his household, and he made far more than my mom and disabled dad. Under their incomes, I would have been considered for some needs-based and needs-considered merit scholarships, but his higher income disqualified me.


March 5th, 2014
11:15 am

I like this idea, but does it apply to me? I’m 31 years old. Can I sue my parents for weekly child support too?


March 5th, 2014
11:19 am

Absolutely! It’s the parent’s way or the highway lil missy! You are too young to realize you are simply embarrassing yourself. Good luck finding someone to hire you in the future…


March 5th, 2014
11:20 am

I can’t write a full comment but…$650 a WEEK? What in the devil? Some folks who WORK don’t make $650 a week. She has got to be out of her mind.


March 5th, 2014
11:25 am

@HB – correction, she had to be declared “abandoned” not emancipated, you’re right, you can only do that until you are 18.


March 5th, 2014
11:29 am

Got it — that makes a bit more sense. Thanks.


March 5th, 2014
11:31 am

I think there are two separate issues being discussed on this board and need clarity. At 18 you considered an adult and responsible for yourself. However, for higher education purposes (meaning financial aid) you are considered a dependent unless you legally emancipate yourself. It is quite a difficult process. The rules changed in the early/mid 1990s on how a student could be considered ‘independent.’

I know if I was a younger today under these new rules, it would have been difficult, even near impossible to finish college. I was able to establish a residence (which really was my BF mom’s address to use for my mail). I was able to show that I paid all my own bills and live without parental support so after two years (meaning they did not claim me on their income taxes. I had to provide copies of their taxes as proof; I was considered independent for financial aid purposes. I no longer had to provide their tax documents.

This is no longer the case. There are minimum income requirements as well as income tax as well as age requirements (and/or combination depending on your circumstance). Unless you legally get emancipated you will have to count your parents income even if they don’t pay a dime.

This makes it quite difficult for those, like me, who did not want to run wild but just have a life. I would have never attended college if it were up to my parents. They wanted me to marry a man that they would have picked out for me.


March 5th, 2014
11:32 am

@ Single Mom…TWG does other journalism besides this blog. She has the right to “freelance” into other publications. Are you jealous of her hours or something?

As to this topic: She chose to leave. Unless she can prove they abused or neglected her (and somehow that doesn’t seem likely)…she can MOVE BACK and live under their rules if she wants the support or she can pay it herself and live wherever.

When we turned 18 we were told chose:

Go to college…grades stay up we pay “x” dollars (I forget what it was but it was not full tuition) and you pay the rest.

Go to work full time and pay rent

Go to work full time and move out

Go in the military

Don’t do any of the above and you can go live with whomever will support your butt we won’t.

I ended up working and going to college part time for 8 years. My parents rules were still the rules until I moved out…although they changed somewhat when I turned 21.


March 5th, 2014
11:45 am

Thanks for the clarification, jct. I fell under the new rules in the mid to late 90s. We have a lot of oddities in the way we treat young adults. People seem to want to say that they are adults and should take responsibility for themselves, but rules such as this prevent them from fully doing so. If parents aren’t required to support kids past 18, then unsupported kids, regardless of whether the choice is theirs or their parents, shouldn’t be penalized by policies that treat them as if they should be supported by their parents.


March 5th, 2014
11:49 am

Brat got what she deserved. Actions have consequences. If she’s an adult and is so smart, then she can figure out how to support herself. This is a tough lesson, but I applaud her parents for not caving.


March 5th, 2014
12:23 pm

Heaven help us all! This is the most bizarre thing I have ever heard. For starters, disbar John Inglesino. His involvement in this makes no sense unless he is a) sleeping with her, b) is tired of footing her bill and wants reimbursement. Second, sue John Inglesino for lawyer fees. Third, I would be a little afraid to have this chick move back home. She is clearly spoiled, manipulative and whacky. I would fear for my safety and the safety of the other children in the house. Fourth, ship her off to reform school before she gets pregnant as yet another tactic to get back at her father. Finally, stay strong parents. As John Rosemond once said, “if your kids don’t like you, you must be doing something right.”


March 5th, 2014
12:37 pm

@HB. I completely agree. I think this is way we see a rise in entitlement of young people. I knew I had an out. I had to prove to the folks at my school that I could support myself before I could be determined independent by their eyes.

If my remembrance is correct, the change in the rules was proposed because (some) high income earners would state that they kids were independent and lived on their own. What was really occurring is that they were employed at the parents company at a wage where they still could get financial aid but not have claim their parents income. These students were not ‘truly’ independent but met the spirit of the regulation. The change was to tighten this up. However, what it did was hurt those who truly need/want to get away from their parents to start their own life.

I am still glad that I left home when I did but I would not want to re-live 18-24 over EVER again.


March 5th, 2014
12:46 pm

@ aon…My husband and several neighbors have said sort of the same thing as you pointed out in A and B. They all think that he has something going on with the girl and this legal action is just a cover for her to have and excuse to live in his house.