Teen sues parents for HS & college tuition

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

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


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? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Sun, 03-09-2014 - 11:55pm

Sabrtooth as I took another look at what I last posted, I realized that it sounded like I was arguing with your point, and that was not my intention, as I can’t disagree that that is the most optimal situation. 

My point is, what should parents do when the faced with a teen pregnancy?  More particularly when the couple wants to keep the baby and get married.  The two couples I described above (the daughter who went to HS with our kids and the son and daughter of the law partners) come from families of affluence, the two lawyer’s kids more so (we are talking about several million $ homes).  The 18 nephew in our family and the 16 year old girl he got pregnant are also children of some affluence. These folks could all afford to fund several college students at the same time, some at private universities, which, as Musiclover noted, have insanely expensive tuition rates.   Hubby and I are a modest middle income couple because we both work, which lots of the kids our kids attended HS with would call rich, but we could not have afforded to keep the girls on campus at big state university, much less so at a private one.  My thinking is, if you have money to help the kids, why not. And if it ends in the train wreck of divorce, try to make them “poster parents of how to do divorce correctly” and not use the child as a weapon, something that is no less difficult than landing men on the moon in my estimation.  

Something I left out about the son of the law partner was that both SILs, especially oldest who is not socially challenged like youngest, told us that the guy does not appear to be a Casanova or Playboy.  Youngest has known him for years from a distance and has no recollection of him having a serious GF.  Another thought that comes to my mind is this may be the girl’s way of getting away from her parents, but that sounds a bit insane. 

There is an old saying that, “Weary is the head that wears the crown.”  It may be that being a child of affluence is not as glorious as it sounds.  But, I suppose it’s somewhat like being a lottery winner, which we would all like to try out.  LOL 

The ones that trouble me are the ones where the parents truly can’t help out and the child is born into really bad circumstances, often times where the sperm donor is just that and splits the scene.  One time I stumbled into the iVillage single teen mom section and it was truly heartbreaking. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 03-10-2014 - 11:46am

Oh believe me, people from RI think it's horrible if you have to drive more than 15 mins. to get to work or go anywhere.  But on a good note, there have been occasions where I have driven through 3 states and back in one day.  Like one day my ex & I went to Portsmouth, NH which is a very nice town and it's just over the border from Maine, which we decided to go to just to say we did.  

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Mon, 03-10-2014 - 2:06pm

What should parents do when pregnant teens want to get married?  The same thing they should do if the teen wanted to get a tattoo, pierce their nose, go on a road trip 6 months after they got their liscense, drink wine coolers at the house, or date a high school drop-out ex-con.  Say NO.  Say the same thing we said when our dds requested some of the above.  "When you are over 21, self supporting, and live in your own home, you can do what you want."  To which my  dd so famously replied, "But by then, I won't want it anymore!!!"

I am not saying you should not help your child, and grandchild.  But enabling them to "play house" is not the way to do it.  Tell your child (girl OR boy) they must finish their college education, get a decent job, AND spend their "spare" time caring for their child.   They do NOT live together.  They do NOT create any more children.  (Having ONE child they cannot support is a mistake.  Having a second, is not.)  And if they STILL want to get married when they are over 21, have a good career, and can afford to support themselves, their child, and live in a place of their own,  then go for it.

Yesterday, I was out to lunch with Lolo, and we discussed Will's first marriage.  He got his hs sweetheart pregnant right after graduation, and moved into her parents' house.  He went to CC, got a part time job, and got her pregnant again, while she sat home, took care of the babies, and got bored and resentfull.  Lolo said Will freely admits that he was "in love" with the IDEA of being in love, and that if EITHER set of parents had discouraged the idea of marriage, & helped by allowing both of them to get decent educations within a reasonable amount of time, so they both could have gotten good paying jobs, they never would have had a second child, and things would have turned out much differently.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Mon, 03-10-2014 - 8:50pm

I'm not a big fan of teens getting married either, mainly because we know how much a person can change as they mature. There is no longer quite the stigma of being a teen mom. Kimmybabe's dd's are very fortunate that their situation is working out but their story is pretty unique all the way around.

My BIL&SIL handled the situation with a lot of grace, especially considering that they are very devout Catholics who do not believe in sex outside of marriage...their take on it was that babies are a blessing, period. Niece was about 20 or 21 when she came home for Christmas break from college with some big news. The father-to-be was not a long time bf so they didn't know each other really well. He offered to marry her and she refused. She arranged to take the spring semester online and stayed at home with her parents until the baby was born in the summer. When the baby was 6 wks old niece and her mom moved to the college town. Mom stayed there providing childcare for more than the fall semester, this was a huge sacrifice, physically and financially, for BIL to have his wife gone for months but they felt it was the best way to ensure that niece could finish college without the stresses of single parenthood. The baby-daddy came over almost every night to see baby and niece, and they grew their relationship/little family that way. Eventually SIL went home with the understanding that baby-daddy would not be moving in or even spending the night. At some point niece decided that baby-daddy was the man for her, and after he graduated (he was a year behind her, plus he's a med student) they had a big formal church wedding in niece's hometown with their then 5yo dd as flower girl. Ironically it took them a year to conceive their second child who recently arrived and they seem to be a very happy little family. If niece had not decided for baby-daddy I guess she would be struggling as a single mom but I respect that she didn't just marry him to solve the problem of being single and pregnant.

So there are different ways in which parents can support their kids and grandkids, but most do require sacrifice on the part of some or all of the parties involved.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Tue, 03-11-2014 - 12:05am

Ah my friends, at lunch today I was reminded of what is the problem with Rachel of New Jersey and her entitlement mentality.  There is a proper name for her condition.  This young lady suffers from—don’t laugh—“Affluenza.”  Yes I’m serious. Don’t blame her as it is all the affluence that she was raised in that caused her problems. 

Google “Affluenza Defense” for the sick story of 16 year old Ethan Coach of our county here in the banana republic of Texas.  There is video tape of Ethan and his pals stealing two cases of beer before the seven teens climbed into his dad’s company owned F-350 truck (largest truck Ford makes) and plowed it into four people standing near a stalled car killing all four, leaving one of his passengers severally brain damaged to the point that he is paralyzed and can only blink to answer questions.  He’s blood alcohol level, three hours after the accident, was a mere .24, which is three times the .08 for adult DUI.  He also had velum floating around in his blood. 

One article stated that his old man’s company makes about ten million dollars a year. That allowed for a very expensive and obviously very effective legal dream team to defend the son. 

You can read the stories, but he ended up with probation for ten years and being placed in a residential rehabilitation program that costs a mere $450,000 annually.

Besides DUI laws that make any amount of alcohol in a teen a DUI violation, our state has a graduated drivers license restriction that prohibits a teen from having more than one unrelated teen in their car during that first year of solo driving.  He was also driving during the prohibited hours for teens under 18 to drive.  Riding in the bed of the truck is also illegal, which two of his passengers were.

One of the news articles had an expert on the subject claim that about 20% of upper middle income teens suffer from Affluinza.  Others stated the obvious that this is a double standard between those with parent’s rich enough to pay for better lawyers and those of poor families.   

Having listened to several of the kids CD collection of summery law lectures of their classes because I like to know a little about what they are doing, I recall the criminal lecture discussing the various reasons for punishment.  One snippet was the value of specific deterrence vs. general deterrence, with specific deterrence sending the violator a message not to do it, while general deterrence sends a message to others not to do it as you might spend a few years in prison.  Incapacitation is another reason for punishment that means while in prison you probably can’t drive drunk again until you get out.   

One of many sad parts of all this affluenza is that the kids come out with screwed up values when they have an entitlement mentality. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Tue, 03-11-2014 - 12:12am

Elc11, that is a truly moving and wonderful story.  Thank you for sharing it.  My speculation is that this guy decided NOT to be just a sperm donor and thankfully your niece was willing to keep the door open for what might happen.  I bet this was a very special wedding for the priest as it was to unite a family and a celebration of a very Catholic value—the sanctity of every life.  Babies are truly a blessing from heaven.

Our situation is very much a team effort where that older daughter and SIL prop up the parents of our grandsons. They go off to work together two days a week and then take care of the babies while the younger two go off to work two days a week. This allows each of the four to accumulate work experience hours to qualify for their CPA and earn much needed money, which melts like a snowball in a hot place.  Both couples have very structured and scheduled lives.  This structure also lets each couple have lots of together time with each other. These guys have been propping up each other’s leaning side for a decade coming up this summer.  They are closer than most siblings.  I’m sure the younger two grandsons do not know the difference between, parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle.  Not very sure the three year old really does.

With the exception of this most recent marriage of the lawyer’s seventeen year old daughter (now eighteen), you will note that all the others I mentioned are graduating within a reasonable time.  Five and Six years are the average nowadays.  This lawyer family has the money for child care and I can’t see either mother doing it even though they neither work.  I’m not sure how the couple will bridge the age gap situation and this is also not a long term relationship.  The 18 nephew and the 16 sister of his friend were closer in age and were able to develop a relationship which is truly exceptional.  The grandparents on both sides watched the child while they went off to classes in the evenings. 

And Sabrtooth also has a very valid point about the hazards of the situation getting worse because of the teen marriage issues. I heard this quote which is somewhat on point, “When it comes to human misery there are no limitations.  It can always get worse.”

If you are truly fortunate, you marry for life at whatever age. George and Barbara Bush just knocked off #69 last January.  A teen romance gone good.  Sometime this summer W turns 68.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 03-11-2014 - 11:05am

Kimmy, our office has a case now where an elderly man pedestrain was struck by a drunk driver with a blood alcohol level of over .2--I looked that up and for a woman that means something like 10 drinks!  She was actually a bus driver by profession but not on the job.  He is paralyzed I think.  The news reports said that when the police were questioning her she could hardly stand up.  I don't know what's happening with the criminal aspects of the case.  Very sad.  We can try to get him a lot of money but how is that going to make his & his wife's life better?  I'm sure they would rather go back to their previous lower income lifestyle with the guy not being hurt.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009

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This case has nothing to do with her being spoiled but it has everything to do with how funding of post-secondary is handled.

This girl, if anything, wants to make something of herself. To me that is laudable. I doubt if she was really spoiled, she would have picked engineering.  I have to laugh over many of the comments on the net about this girl. If only perfect angels could get an education, 99% of the engineers and scientists I know and work with (and many are from the US) would never had become who they are today.  And I wonder, if it was a boy, would there be so much negative press.

Here is a girl whose parents sent her to a Catholic high school, a school with high standards. One would think they did that because they value their daughter's education. In 2012, all of the graduating class went on to college. The total amount of scholarship money won by the graduating class was 1.8M; more than a few won $100K scholarships.  The school also has a number of scholarships graduating students can win and various scholarships to help those kids whose parents cannot afford the fees.

The school's tuition is $12K per year, expensive but not anywhere near the cost of some of more "elite" schools with fees $30K or more. In other words, there are "private" schools and then there are PRIVATE schools. This does not sound like a school full of kids driving BMWs. By the way, Rachel got her license at 17. She was driving a Jetta, leased by her father but she was paying the monthly lease from her part-time job earnings. No DUIs; she would call her parents if she could not get home (including if her ride was drinking.) And this is in the court papers.

The point is not that Rachel feels entitled to go to a "private" high school. She wants to finish her last 4 months at HER high school. Being an honor student, she is probably in IB. If she transfers to a public school, her IB credits would be lost and IB credits, like AP, can be used in college.  She would have applied to colleges already; those applications could be voided since the acceptances would be based on her graduating from a highly rated high school, with those extra college credits. One could understand why she would want to stay. 

Moreover, the parents signed a contract, with the school to send their daughter for the full year. They decided not to honor that contract, and did not pay the remaining fees of $5600. Their choice but, if I was the school administrator, I would be concerned if the parents would do the same with their other 2 girls. The school would have limited spaces available and would, I assume, prefer to fill those spots with students whose parents will honor their contractual agreements.

Fortunately the school decided to waive Rachel’s last term fees and she can graduate with her class. I have to wonder, if this girl is such a terrible spoiled brat, you would think they would be thrill to get rid of her.

Don’t get blinded by the high emergency money asked for. The court would always chop that amount down. And, if it is true that the parents did kick her out (and there are indications from the court papers that could be a reasonable interpretation on Rachel’s part), she would have asked enough to rent a place to live, food, transportation to and from school, therapy and doctor fees etc after the court chopped the amount done. Ask too little and you are going to get nothing. Ask John Carson’s first wife.

When kids apply for student loans, the amount of the loan is calculated based on the assumption that the parents will contribute based on their means.  The more the parents make; the less the student can loan.  And, according to your government student loan site, for financial aid purposes, a student is considered "dependent" if he or she is under 24, unmarried, and has no legal dependents. Not living at home with your parents does not matter. Parental information must be supplied for all dependent students.

 Rachel's parents have an income of about $300K (a good one but not rich) so one would expect that Rachel would not qualify for very much, even if her parents agreed to her applying for loans. Should children of middle class and upper middle class parents be penalized and not helped to get an education, if their parents decide that not to help their children? Here, we have an “out” for kids like Rachel. If you can show that you have been on your own for one year, if you have worked for at least one year between high school and college, you can get government loans independent of your parents.

She wants to be a biomedical engineer, a field where it is important where you go.  It is not something you can do at night or part-time or at some local community college. Unfortunately, tuitions at American public universities are ridiculously high, especially for out of state students. One university she applied to was University of Vermont with tuition of $35K and, at U of Delaware, $29K a year. Ouch! Are these Cadillac programs? No, far from it!   We are not talking MIT.  Even, If she stayed in NJ, at the NJ Institute of Technology, it would be the $17K. Ouch! The most expensive university here only charges $13K, even if the student is from another province and that is for engineering. She has been offered scholarships; at least one $20K. Let’s say it was at NJ Institute of Technology, she would still have to borrow money to pay her room & board & books. Even if she went part-time and works (she does work at a restaurant as a hostess), she would not be able to go to school unless she could secure government loans.  And she cannot, until she is over than 24.

The question is not that this girl feels entitled to an education but should she be penalized for wanting one?  If parents have no financial responsibility towards their 18 to 24 year old children, should not the government loan system have some mechanism for these young adults to secure student loans independent from their parents? And, if 18 year olds are adults, why do many divorce settlements include a financial support of over 18 year olds? Should not the concept of parental financial responsibility or (lack of responsibility) be applied evenly?

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Tue, 03-11-2014 - 7:43pm

Marie, this kid can SAY she wants to be a bioengineer, or she could SAY she wants to be Mother Teresa.  What she ACTUALLY will do has yet to be determined.  In addition, I do not see how her SAYING she wants to be a bioengineer means she should be entitled to her parents' money.  In fact, court papers show she "...has had disciplinary problems, including stealing credit cards, underage drinking, breaking curfew, driving under age, lying to Child Protective Services, being suspended from school (TWICE), losing her position within Campus Ministry and being stripped of her cheer captaincy", which HARDLY is the profile of a nose-to-the-grindstone student.

As for "IB" credits, not hardly.  The school, for all it's posturing, barely has any math or science AP classes.  Check out the curriculum.  http://www.morriscatholic.org/data/files/gallery/ContentGallery/Curriculum_Guide_20142015.pdf

And there is the point that this kid COULD go home, and her parents WOULD pay for her schooling, if she would keep a decent mouth toward her mother, respect her parents curfew and no-alcohol rules, stop bullying her sisters, and do a few chores.

But to answer your larger question, if this girl REALLY wanted to go to university, and was an excellent student AND an outstanding leader, she COULD go.  Without her parent's money.   Federal Stafford Unsubsidized loans are available in the student's own name, without the parents permission, cosigning, or taking the parents' income into consideration.  The student does not even have to prove credit worthiness.  Private loans are also available in her own name, but if she is not credit worthy, she would need a co-signer.  Perhaps the girlfriend's father, the big money lawyer who filed the suit "for her", and who got the UNDERAGE child so drunk at his house that she vomited all the way down the front walk, when her parents came to pick her up, would be so kind.

Scholarships are also available.  My friend's daughter went to MIT on scholarship, all four years.  It was 50% of tuition, based on academics, and leadership.  She also lived room and board free, in the dorms, for 3 of the 4 years, by being an RA.  She graduated with a degree in CHhemical Engineering, and then went to DePaul Law school, on scholarship and her OWN dime.  Her mother is a Dental Hygienist, and her father is a Vice President for a nationwide energy company.  They are NOT poor, but their children are not drunken, entitled brats.

My son-in-law is a software engineer, with a degree from University of Illinois-Chicago, which is ranked 5th in the nation for engineering.  His parents did not pay ONE CENT for his education.  His father is a Colonel in the Army, and his mother has a daycare business. NOT poor people.   He went into the Army right out of high school, for one 4-year tour.  As a result, he was entitled to GI benefits including tuition reimbursment, and a living stipend.  He was also a nationally ranked track and field star in high school (as was his sister, who went to University of Illinois on a full ride for track & field), and he was able to get a talent scholarship for track and field.  In addition, he was recruited by the Veteran Benefits Administration for an internship, that morphed into a part-time job (full time in the summer) for all the time he was in school, and a job upon graduation.

Perhaps this motivated, bioengineer-to-be should check out some of the scholarships available to engineering students at UIC.  Wait.  I don't think "leadership" is defined as being suspended from school, stealing credit cards, lying to CPS, being stripped of your team captaincy, and suing your parents.



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Wed, 03-12-2014 - 12:45am

Musiclover, I have seen a few of those big winners of damage awards and always come away thinking (actually praying would be more correct.  May me and mine never be worthy of such a judgment, LORD.  They usually are missing appendages, have a permanent colostomy bag hanging off their wheel chair and often are just breathing and that with the aid of a machine. 

And for most people injured by a DUI driver, suing the driver is about as profitable as suing a homeless person, as they have minimal to non-existent insurance or assets. And as I alluded to above and as Musiclover stated, no amount of money can compensate for that type of loss.  

For most people three beers puts them at or over .08 and it takes about an hour for the liver to remove each beer.  How many kids or adults grasp this?  Six beers puts you at extremely intoxicated .16 and .24 . . . well skunks don’t even get that drunk.  Seriously at that point you don’t even have the ability to realize that you’re driving off the road or into the back of a parked vehicle.  Not even when all your passengers are screaming STOP.  At some point you can get so drunk that you’re brain stops signaling you’re heart to beat and this is called dead.  This happens nearly every year at frat houses around the country.

Several beaches stopped allowing kegs because the idiots don’t understand the difference between a can and a double gulp size container of beer from a keg and that double gulp is about a six pack worth of beer.  Beer has about 5%alcohol by weight, while wines are about 12%, and distilled spirits like vodka are about 40% and it is difficult to know how much alcohol is in a drink at the frat house.  Once again, how many teens or adults understand this?

We did not have to face this issue at our house, but I think if we had, I would have had a few “let’s find out what alcohol does to you and how much is tooooo much events” with my daughters before they went off to college and tried to figure it out at a frat house party.  No I would not and did not let our teens go where alcohol was available to them at a house party or otherwise.