New Jersey teen who sued parents returns home: lawyers
NEW YORK - A New Jersey teen who drew international attention when she sued her parents to demand they pay her tuition after she moved out of their house has decided to return home, but their legal battle has not yet been settled, attorneys said Wednesday.
As Sarno announced that the family was reuniting, the teen's attorney filed a new application for emergency court intervention, saying she could be unfairly pressured to drop the legal proceedings against her parents.
In the lawsuit filed in late February, the teenager demanded that her parents pay her tuition at a private high school, plus living expenses, and give her access to a college savings fund set up for her.
The emergency application filed on Wednesday requested a court-appointed guardian and asked that court records in the case be sealed.
"It is critical that if Rachel does dismiss this matter that it be done of her own free will, and not due to the extreme pressure of her parents and the media," attorney Tanya Helfand wrote.
Rachel Canning said in her lawsuit that she left home in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, after her 18th birthday in November 2013, because she was emotionally abused and neglected. Her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning, argued that their daughter had disciplinary problems at home and school and would not conform to house rules that included curfews and chores.
The case raised the legal question of how much the government can intervene in a financial dispute between parents and a child over 18 who is an adult but not legally emancipated.
Legal experts said the case could set a precedent on whether non-divorced parents in the state are under obligation to pay for their children's college education and provide other financial support after the child has left home.
At a court hearing last week, Canning sought emergency financial relief from her parents, but the judge denied her request, saying it posed a potential "slippery slope."
"Do we want to establish a precedent where parents are living in constant fear of establishing basic rules of the house?" he said during the March 4 hearing.
Sarno, the parents' attorney, said on Wednesday: "The Cannings want this matter behind them so they begin the healing process with their family."