Children vs. parents

What do parents owe their children?

That’s the crux of a lawsuit in New Jersey, filed by high school senior Rachel Canning, 18, who says her parents kicked her out of the house. She is suing to force her parents to pay her $650 weekly child support and pay for her remaining high school tuition, and a court hearing set for next month will decide whether to force the teen’s parents to pay for her college education.

Canning’s parents say the teen voluntarily left the house two days before she turned 18 and moved in with a friend. The parents say the teen didn’t want to abide by household rules, including keeping a curfew, doing a few chores and ending a relationship with a boyfriend the parents said was a bad influence on the honor student.

There’s more to both sides, of course, but you get the point. But the case raises interesting questions:?Do parents owe their children a college education? Can parents be forced by a court to pay for a college education?

We’ve not seen any parenting manual that says explicitly “Parents will provide and pay for their children to attend an institution of higher education.” We can’t imagine a scenario where a judge will force the parents in the New Jersey case to pony up college tuition for their child against their will. If that’s the case, then we would expect a flood of parent vs. child lawsuits to hit the court system. Conversely, then, what’s would stop elderly parents from suing their grown children for financial and medical support during their golden years?

We imagine this case being better settled among family counseling sessions rather than in front of a judge.