Girl Sues Parents for Support

In recent news, Rachel Canning, an eighteen-year-old high school senior from New Jersey, sued her parents for cutting her off financially. Specifically, she is alleging that her parents emotionally abused her to the point that she had to leave the family home and that since leaving the home she is unable to support herself financially.

Ms. Canning is asking the court to order her parents to pay the remaining tuition for her last semester at her private high school, pay her current living and transportation expenses, commit to paying her college tuition and pay her legal fees for having to take legal action.

On the other side, her parents state that there has been no emotional abuse, and that this is simply a case where a teenager did not want to obey the house rules, so she ran away.

Staff from New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) investigated this matter and ultimately determined that allegation of emotional abuse was unfounded.

The Judge found no such ground to make a ruling in Ms. Canning’s favor at this stage in this case. The Judge denied the request for the last semester of high school tuition because the school agreed to allow her to continue despite her parents nonpayment. Additionally, the Judge denied the request for immediate financial assistance, as he did not believe this was an emergency situation.

The matter is not over however, and the Judge indicated that he would make further decisions at the next hearing.

In New Jersey, emancipation is the legal act by which a child is released from both the control and support of a parent. In essence, parents have a legal responsibility to support their child until the child has “left the scope of his or her parents’ authority.” See CNN article here.

In Wisconsin, there is no “legal emancipation,” except if the minor is married; however, a minor can take action for support against his/her parents. Parents have a legal responsibility to support their child who is less than 18 years old, or who is less than 19 years old if the child is pursuing an accredited course of instruction leading to the acquisition of a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Despite the states differences on actions that children can take and the remedies available, the New Jersey case highlights an interesting point to all about parenting decisions and minors’ rights to support.

Cases like the New Jersey case, where a child is seeking support or in similar cases where someone is seeking support for a child, are filed in Wisconsin as post-judgment motions to modify child support. If you or someone you know have any questions regarding post-judgment child support related issues, please contact our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free initial office consultation or visit our website for more information.