New Jersey Teen Who Sued Parents Is Back Home, Which We Imagine Makes For Some Awkward Family Meals
After New Jersey high-schooler Rachel Canning sued her parents for neglecting to pay her tuition bills, she was widely criticized as a spoiled brat. But now it seems the family has patched things up, because Canning is living at home once more — for now. Even though her lawsuit hasn't officially been withdrawn yet, the 18-year-old honor student returned home to Lincoln Park, N.J., on Tuesday. There may be some contention still, however, since Canning's lawyer Tanya Helfand says Canning was "pressured" to return home.
The family has requested privacy after enduring attention of "reality TV" proportions, says attorney Angelo Sarno, the lawyer for Canning's parents.
"This isn't about who's right and who's wrong," Sarno said. "They're not athletes, they're not actors. They didn't ask for any of this. Everyone should be happy today. This is a happy situation."
When Canning filed a lawsuit against her parents on Feb. 24 with the help of her best friend's attorney father, reaction was quick and merciless. People were quick to label Canning as "spoiled" and a "bitch" who was pouting because her parents wouldn't let her go out with her boyfriend or party late on weekends.
But Canning alleged that her parents' abusive relationship contributed to an eating disorder. She wanted them to pay for the remainder of her Catholic school tuition, college tuition, and legal fees. Her parents insisted that they wanted their daughter back home the entire time.
Said attorney Sarno:
The case is without any legal merit... Certain cases should not see the inside of a courtroom. This is one such case. Government cannot police the day-to-day financial affairs of parents and their children while the family is intact. The case must be resolved quickly between the parents and child, preferably without involvement of the court and/or legal counsel. The longer this case remains pending, the greater the divide created between parent and child will grow.
The Cannings want this matter behind them so they can begin the healing process with their family.
Some people, including Gabrielle Moss writing for Bustle, gave Canning a bit more leeway.
Contrary to the popular thought that Canning just up and left her family one day — perhaps deciding to sue her parents while she was bored on the drive-thru line at Taco Bell — Canning had actually been out of the family home since October. This timeline seems to suggest that, rather this lawsuit being the impulsive whim of an indulged monster, it is actually a bit of a last resort, and one Canning took on after spending the past five months scrambling to figure out how to make a deposit for college.
Maybe that line of thinking doesn’t move you. Fine. But at least consider that cases like these — when parents who have been accused of abuse are publicly depicted as loving, and their child a spoiled menace — cannot be summed up by a simple headline.
If the case ends up going to trial on April 22, a judge will have to decide whether Canning is entitled to monetary support or gave that up when she voluntarily moved out.
I wouldn't want to be in that house while they patch things up. This is going to lead to some pretty awkward dinner conversations.