Decisions Teen Denied Support in Lawsuit Against Her Parents

An 18 year old high school student's lawsuit against her parents for financial support and college tuition hit a snag after her order to show cause for support was denied by a New Jersey court. She is currently residing at the home of an attorney who is not only funding her lawsuit, but is also serving on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's School Funding Task Force.

Rachel Canning's Complaint Against Her Parents

Teenager Rachel Canning alleged in her complaint, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Morris County, that emotional abuse inflicted by her parents "constructively evicted" her from their home in October, 2013. As a result of continuously being called "fat" and "porky" by her parents, she became afflicted with Bulimia. After an ugly confrontation about being intoxicated at her high school's Homecoming dance, New Jersey's Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) was called to investigate Canning's abuse claims. Despite the DCPP's conclusion that allegations of emotional abuse were unfounded, Canning claims that her parents made it "unsafe" to return home. After spending a few nights at the home of her boyfriend last October, she has been living at the home of a classmate whose father, attorney John Inglesino, is funding her lawsuit.

Canning is a cheerleader at her private high school, Morris Catholic High School in Denville. She works part time as a hostess at TGI Friday's and hopes to attend the University of Delaware. She seeks to have the Morris County Superior Court declare her unemancipated, which would mean that her parents still bear the responsibility for supporting their daughter. Canning's father is the retired Chief of Police of Lincoln Park. The complaint alleges that he receives e a lifetime pension and health benefits from the State of New Jersey and earns almost $250,000 per year. He is also currently being paid by the Township of Mount Olive for employment as a business administrator. In addition to paying for her final semester in a private high school, she also requests funding for college tuition, living expenses and legal fees for the lawsuit. Since the Canning family annual household income is near $300,000, Rachel Canning is demanding that the court order her parents to pay the Inglesino family $654 per week as per the Child Support Guidelines.

Canning's parents claim that the abuse allegations are unfounded. They further insist that their daughter left the home on her own volition, as she did not wish to abide by the house rules. After allegedly being suspended from school for truancy, her parents forbade her from seeing her boyfriend (who was also suspended). They revoked her car, phone and other privileges. As a result of the punishment, Canning's parents alleged that she left the home permanently. After this episode, the Cannings called Morris Catholic High School, a private prep school, and informed administrators that they would no longer pay for her tuition.

Order to Show Cause Denied

Rachel Canning filed an order for the court to grant her immediate financial assistance for school tuition, child support and the payment of her attorneys' fees in the amount of $12,000. Judge Peter Bogaard denied the order for high school tuition and child support at a hearing this past Tuesday in New Jersey State Superior Court on the grounds that there was no readily apparent emergency that needed to be remedied and that there was no likelihood that the plaintiff would win on the merits of the case. He noted that this case would probably be decided on the ultimate issue on whether Rachel Canning would be considered emancipated even though she's still a high school student. Bogaard also questioned whether this case should open the doors for a child to sue for an Xbox or an iPhone. Judge Bogaard clearly expressed the hope that the parties would find a way to resolve the matter between themselves. A Daily Record video of the hearing includes each party's legal argument in the case. An April hearing will determine whether Canning left her parents' home voluntarily as well as other issues.
Legal Practice
Family - Child Support
  1. New Jersey
About author
Michael Wechsler
Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.


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Michael Wechsler
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