Family Law

High school student, 18, moves in with lawyer's family, sues parents for support and college tuition

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Updated: An 18-year-old high school student in New Jersey wasn’t getting along with her parents.

She says they abandoned her, threw her out of their home and refused to pay her tuition at Morris Catholic High School, where she is an honor student. They say she left voluntarily because she wouldn’t follow their rules.

Now a state court judge in Morristown is being asked to award Rachel Canning support, including high school tuition and a college fund, after she moved in with her best friend, a lawyer’s daughter, according to the Morristown Daily Record and the Star-Ledger.

The friend’s father, lawyer John Inglesino of Morris County, has advanced Canning the money to pay attorney Tanya Helfand to represent her in the case, which contends Canning is “unemancipated” and hence entitled to parental support, according to filings in the family court case.

The suit also seeks reimbursement of Canning’s legal fees, which at last report had exceeded $12,000.

Rachel Canning’s father, Sean Canning, is a retired chief of police in Lincoln Park who now works as a business administrator for Mount Olive Township; her mother, Elizabeth Canning, is a legal secretary at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter.

Sean Canning said his daughter had not accurately represented the facts of the case and contends she is being “enabled” by well-intentioned, ill-informed people, including Inglesino, the Daily Record reports.

A a scheduled Tuesday afternoon hearing, Judge Peter Bogaard appeared troubled by the idea of such a case and asked at one point: “Why can’t she go home?”

Told by Helfand that Canning’s home life is an “abusive unhealthy situation,” the judge declined to order immediate support payments on Canning’s behalf but set a hearing for next month, according to ABC News and the Associated Press.

The teen’s father, Sean Canning, told WABC-TV that his daughter had refused to follow the family’s rules on a curfew and chores.

“Private school, new car, college education; that all comes with living under our roof,” he told the ABC News affiliate.

In a written statement read to reporters before the hearing began, an attorney for the parents, Laurie Rush-Masuret, said they are distraught about the case.

“To be clear, my clients never abandoned nor abused their child and they have asked her to come home,” the attorney said.

Updated at 6:10 p.m. to include information about Tuesday hearing from ABC News and the Associated Press.

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