Girl, 18, suing parents for support, loses in preliminary ruling

March 5, 2014 at 1:17 PM
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MORRISTOWN, N.J., March 5 (UPI) -- A Morristown, N.J. judge ruled a high school senior who left home to be with her boyfriend is not entitled to child support from the parents she is suing.

Sean and Elizabeth Canning are not required to provide their daughter, Rachel, 18, with $624 per week in emergency child support or automatic access to her college fund, Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard said Tuesday in a preliminary ruling.

The judge will ultimately decide if the parents "constructively abandoned" their daughter when she turned 18 in November, and if they remain obligated to support her and pay for her college education.

Rachael Canning stated in court papers her parents were neglectful and abusive, a statement her parents deny. The parents claim her voluntary departure from their Lincoln Park, N.J., home came after she began drinking, missing curfews and showing disrespect to her parents, a change in behavor they blame on her boyfriend.

Her school, Morris Catholic High School, intervened on her behalf and asked the family of attorney John Inglesino, whose daughter also attends the school, to take her into their home, court documents say.

Inglesino contended discussions with Rachael's father, Sean Canning, were fruitless.

Inglesino is funding the girl's lawsuit for a declaration of "non-emancipation." Judge Bogaard ruled Tuesday not to award $13,000 in legal fees Inglesino thus far has spent on her behalf, the (Morristown, N. J.) Daily Record said Wednesday.

Tanya Helfand, Rachel's lawyer, said in court the heart of the case is Rachael's parents' decision to cut her off from financial support because of her relationship with her boyfriend, a Morris Catholic senior and football player. The parents have spent no more than five minutes talking with him, she said.

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