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House Rules Go to Court

At some point your grandparents probably said it to your parents who in turn said it to you and it came full circle when in the heat of the moment you uttered those famous words to your own children….”if you want to live under my roof you will play by my rules.” 

(L-R) Rachel Canning, her attorney and parents in family court
(L-R) Rachel Canning, her attorney and parents in family court (CBS New York)

Translation, if you don’t like it then get out.  An 18-year old Morris County girl apparently did not like it when her parents pretty much delivered that speech so she left her home and four months later sought help in the courts for financial support. Fortunately the courts did not agree.

Rachel Canning moved out of her Lincoln Park home just two days before her 18th birthday on November 1st.  An honor student and athlete at Morris Catholic High School, Canning claimed in court papers her parents threw her out because she would not dump her boyfriend.  For the last four months she has lived with her best friend whose father is an attorney and former county freeholder who has to this point paid her legal fees.

Canning went to court in Morristown Tuesday seeking an emergency order in which her parents would pay her $650 a week as well as the tuition owed to her school and other related expenses. She also wanted her car back which of course her parents paid for.

After a 2-hour hearing Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard saw no reason for an emergency order but did schedule another hearing for later next month.  In his ruling Bogaard asked “do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in basic fear of establishing rules of the house?”

That is the other side of the equation.  Sean and Elizabeth Canning insist that they did not throw Rachel out of the house. It was her decision rather than follow their rules which included a curfew, doing some chores and showing them respect.  Oh, and they did want her to dump the boyfriend who they feel is a bad influence.  Sean Canning,  by the way, is the retired Lincoln Park Police Chief and currently serves as the business administrator of Mount Olive.

Rachel Canning
Rachel Canning (CBS New York)

There is a fairly wide gap in the stories the two sides tell and of course with lawyers involved that gap has grown even wider.  Judge Bogaard said Tuesday he hopes they are able to reconcile and settle this without further court involvement.


For now it appears common sense prevailed because if parents can’t set reasonable rules in their own homes then future generations of moms and dads might have been forced to say “If you don’t like it .then we’ll leave and give you the keys.”

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