Transcript for Judge Rules Against NJ Teen Suing Parents
Thanks, guys. We'll get the latest on the 18-year-old suing her parents to pay for her education even though she's moved out of the family home. They were in court Tuesday and ABC's Ryan smith has the story. She's always going to be your daughter no matter what happens. Reporter: A battle in new Jersey. 18-year-old Rachel canning squaring off against her parents in a morristown courtroom demanding they support her financially despite not living under their room. A family court judge ruling that canning's parents don't have to pay her high school division or living expenses or attorney fees right now. I believe she is a vulnerable young woman and her parents aren't taking care of her. Reporter: But this case has raised many questions and could affect families across the country. The legal issues in this case bring into direct conflict a parent's ability and right to set reasonable rules and exert reasonable discipline over their children. Reporter: At a future date the judge will decide whether Sean and Elizabeth canning must pay Rachel's college tuition next fall. In the meantime, the judge clearly concerned about setting a dangerous precedent. What would the next step be? Are we going to condone a 12-year-old to sue for an xbox? Reporter: Rachel claims her parents kicked her out of the house when she turned 18 in October. But her parents say she left because she wouldn't follow house rules including dumping her boyfriend. We gave her the ultimatum of breaking up with her boyfriend but she didn't want to give up the boyfriend. Reporter: The judge passionate about this case taking issue with an expletive-filled voice mail Rachel left for her mother. Have you ever in your experience seen a young adult show such gross disrespect for a parent? Reporter: The judge told the court the family should focus on reuniting, Reading in part an apology letter Rachel wrote to her parents before the battle began. I love you guys and I am trying to turn over a new leaf. Reporter: For "Good morning America," Ryan smith, ABC news, New York. Okay, let's talk to our chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams. Did she leave the house on her own or kicked out? It's a fascinating legal question. And technically if you're 18 in the state of New Jersey, it doesn't immediately mean you're emancipated. Meaning it doesn't immediately mean that the parents do not have legal responsibility. So it becomes a fact-specific question. One of the key questions is, did she leave or was she kicked out meaning if she did leave the house on her own and then developed her own independent life to some degree which it seems the court does believe she did then the parents aren't financially responsible. But if they had effectively kicked her out, if she was still within their sphere of influence is a legal phrase, then they could have been legally responsible. And as Ryan pointed out, this is being watched so closely all around the country because this could be a precedent-setting case. You talk to New Jersey lawyers and they all say that they've never seen anything like it under New Jersey law. And the tricky thing about it is because this case is so close in terms of the facts here, meaning that the question of did she leave, was she kicked out, all these fascinating questions that relate to everyday parents that they think about all the time is what makes it such an interesting case. Sure does. Dan Abrams, thanks very much.
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