Teen sues parents for HS & college tuition

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Teen sues parents for HS & college tuition
29
Thu, 03-06-2014 - 1:54pm

Did you see this story? Its a complicated situation and IMO incredibly sad.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/05/living/nj-teen-sues-parents-for-college-education/

I posted this on Parents of College Students too but think its almost more appropriate here, because the girl is still in HS.

What do you ladies think? 

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 03-06-2014 - 6:26pm

While this kid IS, obviously, spoiled and entitled, it didn't happen overnight.  And it didn't happen when she turned 16, or 18.  So even tho the parents may have "...been at the end of their rope..." when they kicked her out of the house, *I* believe they are to blame for letting it get that far.  Unless the kid is a complete psychopath, these parents had plenty of opportunity to get her, and themselves, appropriate counseling and parenting training, back at an age when she was still malleable.

Other than that, she was over 18 when they told her "Obey the rules, or get out".  She was of legal age.  They no longer had any legal responsibility to provide her with ANYTHING.  Any monies the parents had saved, were NOT only for the child's use on college tuition, unless she had an endowed trust fund in her name.  The kid chose to get out, which was her right.  But she did NOT have the right to demand to be supported while she lived somewhere else, and did whatever she dam well pleased.  And the LAWYER who told her this was a GOOD IDEA, and took the case, needs to have his ass kicked from here till next Tuesday.  And they wonder why people despise them.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 03-06-2014 - 9:04pm

I agree with you Sabr that this girl didn't just wake up one day suddenly rebellious or entitled, it took a long time for the situation to get to "end of the rope". And apparently mother and daughter have a history of hurling insults at each other...maybe the daughter learned that from mom? 

Several years ago I read somewhere about what parents are legally obligated to provide for their minor children, and it was extremely basic---like 2 sets of clothes plus a winter coat where necessary, a bar of soap and a toothbrush, a blanket and someplace to sleep off the floor, some amount of food and drink, and access to education as mandated by their state. Nothing about a private HS or a car or college tuition. 

I did not feel obligated to pay for college for my kids. It was something that I wanted to do to help them get ahead in life but I also viewed it as an investment, the "stock" (student) had to show enough potential to perform well for me to be willing to invest my money there. I also wanted appreciation of my investment, since I could have put it towards retirement instead. If my kid had gotten demanding about it, I'm not sure if I would have kept paying. 

The friend's father who is encouraging and funding the lawsuit? I wonder how hard he tried to get the family together in mediation, tried to help them mend this problem? Introduced the girl to a few 20-somethings that acted like her when they were 18 and have since grown up enough to have some perspective to offer?

Have your kids heard this story, and if so, what do they think?

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 03-06-2014 - 10:59pm

The friend's father is a piece of work. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2574966/Spoiled-cheerleader-suing-parents-got-drunk-vodka-home-millionaire-attorney-paying-fees-threw-garbage-claim-mom-dad.html

This "well-connected" lawyer has also made sure the daughter "...also is suing to reimburse her friend's parents, John and Amy Inglesino, for legal fees that they have been paying since the lawsuit was initiated, according to the suit."

One has to wonder if this guy, who said "...he and his wife decided to help Rachel with her lawsuit “because she is a terrific, extremely bright young lady who is committed to her future. Rachel will be a contributing member to our society..." is talking about a DIFFERENT Rachel. One who has NOT "...had disciplinary problems, including stealing credit cards, underage drinking, breaking curfew, driving under age, lying to Child Protective Services, being suspended from school, losing her position within Campus Ministry and being stripped of her cheer captaincy..."

Even the parents of the current boyfriend, who ALSO kicked her out after 2 days, said, “If you read the court papers, you can see the trend is with every boyfriend she’s had, it’s always the boyfriend who’s the bad influence. We have been dragged into this.” There are MAJOR problems with this kid, and in this family. The family has obviously been enabling her conduct disorder for some time, and are now surprised that she has managed to find a NEW enabler, in the parents of her "friend". God only knows what THAT kid is like. One shudders. And these kids are the future of our country.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009

“First, kill all the lawyers.”  Second thought, don’t do that as hubby and I will have three orphans to raise. Third, that’s what happens when you have 40,000 plus law graduates each year, with about 23,000 job offerings.  Fourth, Rachel teenager’s lawyer is probably a graduate from a 1st tier law school (like Harvard or Yale), while the judge is some bozo from a non-ranked (bottom feeder) law school and to “stupid” to know what the law should be, rather than enforce the law as it is as he did. 

I truly did not know that you could kick them out at 18 and was even more stunned by the article about “Millenniums returning home.”  (I’m not clear if ours are millenniums or some other generation.)  How exactly do you get rid of them to begin with? Ours refuse to leave and say they are NEVER leaving home.  THIS IS FINE WITH HUBBY AND ME. 

Seriously, the parents looked normal to me and obviously to the judge also.  This girl reminded me somewhat of those rich kids at our kid’s high school whose parents and grandparents could and did outspend the normal parents 10 to 1, and those kids whose parents lived on public assistance 100 to 1. I picture this girl having a new $30,000 plus convertible or higher end BMW sports car when she started driving, designer clothing, etcetera.  Quoting Mr. T, Pity the fool that gets those prizes via marriage.  High maintenance for certain.

Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath, has a chapter on the subject of the negative effect that extreme wealth and success often has on the children of those rich and successful people. (Most libraries will have a copy of this book, so no need to spend money to buy one.)  Also, he explains that after somewhere between $75,000 and $125,000, wealth begins to have a negative effect on happiness.  Better to be poorer and happy than richer and unhappy. Money can’t buy love, nor happiness.  Shortly before his death, a reporter screamed this question to Elvis, “When you started, you wanted to be rich, famous and happy.  Are you happy?”  Before ducking away, Elvis paused and replied, “No, I’m lonely as hell.”  As Forrest Gump put it, “It must be hard being a king.”

I’m speculating that the judge has a ton more information that is not available to the public and is trying to do what is best for the girl.  I hope the judge is successful

As saber alluded to the girl may have some strings of attachment for any money in a college savings plan.  And I’m speculating that her lawyer plans to take a large chunk of it in fees if he can, which may not be a bad thing as the sooner she is broke the sooner her parents may be able to work with the shambles of her life.  

PS: After reading Sabrtooth and Elc11, even old dumb me might have pitched her out on her ear.  LOL Obviously the judge did have lots of more info than I read earlier which is what I suspected. 

 

 

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Fri, 03-07-2014 - 11:01am

When I first read this article a few days ago it made me laugh. I mean, it was only a matter of time before this happened to someone. 

As for the parents... I always try to give the benefit of the doubt. None of us are born blank slates. There are aspects of our personality that are hard-wired. As parents, we do our best to help our kids function in the world the best they can but sometimes people's wiring is just off and no amount of parenting skill is going to change it. Sure, in a lot of cases, there have been mistakes made but I watched my own parents struggle with my little brother. They did everything they possibly could have done but their was no "fixing" him. There were no lessons he could absorb. There were no experiences that would change his perspective. No public, private, homeschooling situation that he was going to accept willingly. There was no amount of therapy or medication that was going to fix what was born off with him. Yes, he is brilliant and sensitive and he can be an interesting, caring and wonderful person.... but  he can also be angry, accusatory, self-important, lazy and totally unable to accept that anything is his own fault. 

There are cases when you can absolutely look to the parents and say "oh yeah, they really messed up" but there are also cases where you wonder if the kid was going to turn out differently in ANY situation. I feel bad for all of them really. The girl is clueless and I doubt the angel she's trying to portray. Life is going to be hard for her because I suspect she's going to MAKE life hard for herself. I'm sure the parents aren't perfect but they also aren't likely the irresponsible monsters the media will try to make them out to be. It's not a pretty situation for sure.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 03-07-2014 - 11:54am

I really like the comments that the judge made to this girl.  I remember once my Dd made a comment like "Well I'm 18 now, I can do whatever I want" and my answer was "yes, if you want to go live in your own apartment and support yourself, then you can do whatever you want, but since I'm still supporting you, then you still have to do what I tell you to do."  That comment was really never made again.  And I'm pretty sure my son learned from that experience.  I think the friend's parents should be blamed a lot for this fiasco too.  If my DD's friend had a fight w/ her parents and wanted to stay at my house, I might have let her stay for a couple of days, after calling the parents, but I would certainly try to encourage everybody to get along.  I'm a lawyer and I would certainly never think of suing the parents--I'm sure he is doing this for a lot of publicity, but he might find out it's very negative publicity.  Certainly if he is a "millionaire" lawyer, the cost of having the girl stay in his house is not very much.  I think there might be something to the girl being entitled to the "college fund" if an account was actually set up for her benefit, then legall it might be hers, but I'd bet that college fund is not enough to pay for 4 years tuition at a private college, plus living expenses.  I also remember seeing one of our posters saying that even if a kid is over 18, it's hard to prove emancipation for purposes of the FAFSA.

I would not want to see kids encouraged to think that their parents "owed them" paying for private high school and college tuition, even though FAFSA seems to think that you can force your parents to contribute to your tuition, in reality  you can't.  And the parents seem a lot more reasonable.  I agree this didn't just happen overnight.  My 2nd DH has a DD who was very difficult in high school and I could see how his behavior contributed to the unreasonableness in many ways, but generally his rules were not draconian, yet she couldn't seem to obey simple rules like "don't stay up until 2:00am chatting on the phone on a school night," "do your homework so you don't flunk out of school," etc.  So finally things came to a head and in her senior year, she moved in with her maternal grandmother, which is something she had wanted to do for a long time.  We figured everything would be happy--grandma always sided with DSD and thought dad was the meanie.  Well it turns out that DSD was horrible to her GM, stole money from her, wouldn't obey any rules, etc. and GM ended up kicking her out (and changing her will to leave DSD less).  So at age 23, DSD is on her own, working in low wage jobs and probably not enjoying life that much.  If she had stayed w/ her dad, I'm sure he would have helped her out with college--but then again, she dropped out in the 1st semester.  so I think this girl needs a little dose of reality.

Kimmy's post reminded me of those kids on the old show Super Sweet 16, which showed very rich people having elaborate "sweet 16" parties that were so over the top, it was disgusting, but like a train wreck, you couldn't turn away.  Of course the parents would give the kid a brand new car (when they didn't even have their license yet) and sometimes the reaction was like "Oh I'm so disappointed that I only got a BMW when I really wanted the Mercedes."  Ugh!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009

This is somewhat of a modern day version of “the prodigal son” parable in the New Testament. She wants pops to fund her lifestyle choices, except this pop is not so inclined.  Similarly to the son story, this girl is probably going to have to hit rock bottom before things will change.

I recall being one stupid little ?itch between about 16 and 21, when I somewhat wised up.  She is 17. This girl will wise up also at some point.  

I think we all know bad parents with good kids, and good parents with bad kids.  If the kids are not strung out on drugs and a few dozen other super negative things, I think in many cases the parents are just fortunate.   

These parents obviously have what in the legal community is termed “deep pockets” for the attorney’s to pick, if they can.  (“Deep pockets” means rich.).  If the lawyers got a judgment against hubby and me, a very big if, it would go unpaid and our state protects the home from attachment and the pay check from garnishment. Therein is the reason that lawyers sue the Coca-cola truck after an accident and they don’t sue the town drunk who is driving without insurance.  The drunk is “judgment proof,” while Coka-cola has assets to attach a judgment to.

Youngest daughter’s father in-law, who is an attorney and graduate of #15 on the list of top law schools out of 200 law schools, believes that those 1st tier law schools are populated with lots of Profs who like to hypothecate on changing the law via judicial action rather than the legislative process. And this has a way of rubbing off on their students and the judicial selection process also.  This is the reason that the late ultra conservative Republican William F Buckley once commented, “I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston phone book than the Harvard faculty.”  I don’t know but I’m guessing the vast majority of those first two thousand people in the Boston phone book are left of center Democrats.

I wonder what the tuition at her high school is.  Something tells me she is not attending one of those church schools with somewhat reasonable tuition.  Over in Dallas there are a few of those private schools with tuition around a mere $30,000 per year.

Our kids are pedaling down the correct path, but if they were not, I don’t know if I could pitch them out.  However, I know hubby and I would not be funding their stupidity.  Shucks, I would spend the money on returning to Hawaii. 

An interesting companion to this article is the “Burger King Baby” who is now looking for her bio mother on Facebook (whatever that is  LOL).   She is now 27, married with three children of her own, and was adopted by parents who are helping her search for her bio mother.  She is not angry with her bio mom, but grateful that her mom did not discard her in a dumpster and instead gave her the opportunity for a wonderful life.  WOW   I’m sure you can google up the story.

Contrast that story with the gal who drove into the waves in Daytona beach trying to kill her children.  Clearly a crazy person.

An easy way to emancipate a teen from the parents for FASAF (and everything else) at any age is marriage of the teen.  I know that worked out for our couples a few years ago.  Once married, they became eligible for Pell Grant and Subsidized (interest) Stafford loans, without parental contribution being considered. It also removed the parents from liability for the loan debt (but hubby and I for some strange reason are still paying off the undergrad debt of our daughters—love and duty I guess). The couple also becomes eligible for Earned Income Tax Credits.  However, it’s somewhat like the lawnmower blades In that if the first blade doesn’t get you, the second will.  What emancipation benefits you get,  gets taken away quickly, as the parents loose the deduction benefits,  most of the hope type tax benefits are lost, and the parents health insurance no longer covers them (I don’t know if Obama care changed that.).   The point is that “it ain’t easy to beat the system.”  Once in post-grad, parental contribution is not considered. If I recall correctly that FASAF situation extends to age 25 for the unmarried students unless they served in the military, which also has college benefits. 

Musiclover, something tells me that you, nor your kids, received a new Mercedes or BMW at 16.  LOL  My parents cheated me too.  LOL

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 03-08-2014 - 1:42am

Like Elc, we feel our role as parents is to help our kids be as successful in life as possible.  To that end, our kids knew that helping them pay for college was something we intended to do..  However, the money was always a finite amount, the disbursment of which was NEVER a foregone conclusion, and it came with strings attached, which our kids were aware of from about 3th grade or so.  One of those rules was "We don't reward bad grades, or bad behavior."  Another was "If you get married, you become the responsibility of your husband, and yourself."   And yet another was, "if you get pregnant before you are self & child supporting, life as you know it will basically end."  As long as they were not married, they and their child could live with us, but not the sperm donor.   We felt our role as parents was NOT to endorse or facilitate teen sex,  pregnancy, or marriage, since those things are generally incompatable with the lives we evisioned for our kids.  We are very gratified that our kids had the same vision we did. 

And at least we HELPED them pay for college.  Neither Will nor Anthony's parents did.  And Anthony's parents could have.  But they decided that the best way for their children to value, respect and make the most of their education, and to build self-reliance, was for the kids to pay for it themselves.  And they all did, thru a combo of work, military service, scholarship, and self-promotion. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 03-08-2014 - 12:14pm

I got my first car after I graduated from college which was actually a gift from parents--they had purchased one of those life insurance policies for children and cashed it in.  I got a red VW Beetle (used of course) which I didn't even know how to drive home from the dealership because it was a standard shift--my mother had to drive it home.  Ironically the same mother gave my kids cars when they turned 16--I guess she turned soft in her old age.  The one my DD got was about 10 yrs old but my son lucked out because by then he got a car that was only 3 yrs old--and had only 3000 miles on it.  My mom is really one of those little old ladies who only drives around the block.  However, I took that car for myself since my car had 60,000 miles on it and I have to drive all over the state for work and since DS is only driving about 10 miles a day back & forth to school it didn't make sense to me to give him the newer car.  All the cars were Honda Civics so I figured at one time we should write to Honda to do a commercial of the family that always buys Hondas.  My DD even got a brand new one.  Oh and I figured that was it for driving for my mom, who was then 86 when she gave the car to DS but she went out & leased a brand new car for herself--I guess by the time she is 89 she might give up driving altogether or at least share the car of her sister who lives with her.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Sat, 03-08-2014 - 11:52pm

Hubby and I actually did send our daughters out to steal a couple of sons for us.  Joking of course, but we do love the guys as sons.   

Because our daughters were somewhat high profile as cheerleaders, which any girl who wanted to be was at our local public high school, I have had several mothers of pregnant teens call upon me for BTDT thoughts. I get such calls, a couple of times a year.  Those with financial resources are the easier ones to deal with.

The first was the mother of a girl that was also on the squad.  She and her long term BF graduated with the kids and went to two big state universities about ninety minutes apart but got together and made a baby that fall.  Naturally she was upset; actually angry. She wanted her daughter to have an abortion and I thought, “Gee lady, you came to the wrong person on that subject.”  I took her to the grave of the seventeen year old girl where I still occasionally see balloons flying above, noted to her that these parents would love to have her problem and pro-choice means the pregnant person gets to make the choice, not her mother, the BF, some screaming protester, or anybody else.  Also, I noted to her that she and hubby have a very large mostly empty house, with five empty bedrooms upstairs and away from their master suite that would allow the couple a place to live while they attend local state university and hopefully build a relationship that goes the distance.  I told her that she and the boy’s parents would enjoy the baby while they go to classes in the evenings.  They married, moved home, and both are on track to graduate together in June 2015, five years after HS, which is very common nowadays. 

Last November when the seventeen year old daughter of one major law partner and the twenty-five year old son of another major law partner where the kids work as clerk/paralegals were in a family way, I went along with Butchman’s mother to share thoughts with both mothers. (“Major law partners” means big earners.)

(This is the one where all hell broke loose when the guys were hunting and the fathers of both were calling down to the cell phones at the Residence Inn looking for information from Butchman’s dad and the guys.  Our four knew the girl was pregnant by the guy and had suggested that they tell the parents rather than waiting for the explosion.  They waited for the explosion.  Butchman’s father called me wanting me to pump “Thelma and Louise” (his nicknames for our daughters) for information while he pumped the guys.  Not easily done because they don’t gossip, but after the couples spoke with each other they did provide a few thoughts.  They know the older sister who attends UT Law and has summer interned at the office and who has a reputation for being a flirt and more.   From guys who had actually dated the older sister, they had heard that little sister has a reputation also.  Pure Gossip!  And our couples wonder if perhaps she got the boy in trouble and not the other way around. Seemingly she had been going over to his apartment after high school let out and was home by dinner because he had evening classes.  And yes it does border on statutory rape.  And both are kids of privilege.)

On the way over Butchman’s mother chuckled as she said, “Today you’re going to see how the rich and powerful lawyers live.”  We passed by one home on the way to the other.  And they live very nicely in a very expensive area of town!  We parked and got into a Mercedes (and it’s much nicer than a Ford) to go eat together with the mothers.  Both mothers, especially the mother of the future bride was concerned about the marriage ending in divorce even though the couple wanted to marry. I said, “That may be true, but then again it may not. None of us have a crystal ball on the future.  Is this an optimal situation?  Far from it.  There are only these three options in this situation and they are, keep the baby, adoption, and abortion.   It is apparent that the latter two are not on the table for discussion.  What is the difference between having a child from a failed marriage and having a child from a prior relationship?  Very little is my opinion.  What’s the harm of letting them?  Once again, in my opinion there is very little.  Will not letting them change anything?  And maybe they do make it.  For the sake of the couple, your grandchild, and the grandparents let’s hope that they do. And if it fails that will truly SUCK.  My parents were eighteen when they had a similar situation and have been happily married for fifty-two years and hoping to make a hundred.”   

The following week the father of the bride purchased a very expensive wedding package from a client of Butchman’s father who needed to sell it or lose lots of money because his daughter had been injured and was in a wheelchair for several months.  The client, his wife, his daughter and her guy attended what would have been their wedding and enjoyed getting an advanced look at what theirs will look like and make any changes they want.  Wedding planner was most happy also as it was an easy second sale of the same package. Lots of happy people in this transaction.

And yes some of the others have been complete train wrecks. And both of these above and my daughter’s marriages have that potential also.  Such is life.  I’m still stunned by what happened to Al and Tipper Gore and John and Elisabeth Edwards. 

Hubby and I each come from families with three kids. Our daughters are the two youngest of their generation and have ten older first cousins, five on each side.  Eleven are now married, with the twelfth getting married this summer. None have divorced, but that is always a possibility. Including my youngest daughter, three were teen marriages due to pregnancy and one was in his senior year of college when he married his pregnant long time GF.  The one I thought was most risky was the 18 year old nephew who bedded his best friend’s younger sister when she offered herself to him.  She had always had a crush on him. He had just started at big state university when he found out and drove home to marry her. When the semester was over they moved into a garage apartment.  Their baby will be four in a few weeks and they will both graduate from a local state university in December.  They appear to love each other. 

I believe that helping a young couple make it is a good investment.  And to be completely honest we have invested no more money than we would have if the couples had remained single living at home. 

Our girls grew up knowing that there were always limits to what mom and dad could provide.  And hubby and I are very happy to have been able to pay for their undergrad degrees.

The guys parents could have afforded much more, but I think the guys realized that they could spend more time with our daughters if they pushed mowers with them and stayed in classes with them.  He may be socially clueless, but Butch ain’t no dummy.  LOL  And he is a good daddy too!  He goes straight to the cribs when he gets home and is willing to stay up all night with a crying baby when necessary.  I’ve found him in a den rocking chair on many occasions in the middle of the night.  (Thankfully,  with a long robe on considering that until a few months ago he slept in his best birthday suit—something I don’t want to ever see.)  And he is an excellent sperm donor too.  LOL

Oldest SIL was the only driver until they graduated from high school and he drove an SUV from the last century.  And when the second vehicle entered the picture, it too was a very old granny mobile pass me down from the prior century.  Last year they got a good deal on a used 2011 Focus that gets about twice as much millage to the gallon, which they all use for the long hauls to work and school, while the other vehicle had the child seats and is used for the short local runs around town. 

It is really hard for aging parents to give up driving as it takes their independence away.  Most times they kill themselves rather than anybody else though.  Slow speed and they have brittle bones. 

Teasing again, Musiclover isn’t your state one of those “miniature states.”  I think that was first spoken by LBJ to Bobby Kennedy.  LOL  Here in Texas, everything is bigger, including the gas bills.  Be grateful for shorter millage to cover your state.  We truly enjoyed your state!!!!!   

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