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An 18-year-old who sued her parents to compel them to pay for her college education and other living expenses was denied her request for emergency funds in a court hearing Tuesday. There will be follow-up hearing April 22 to decide whether her parents will be required to pay college tuition.

The teen is living with another family, which is paying her legal expenses (more than $12,000 so far).

Wading into the middle of family disputes, particularly those involving teenagers, is fraught with peril. You could probably spend years interviewing the family members and still not understand the context.  There seem to be a few facts here that aren’t disputed, however: An outside family is paying a lawyer so an 18-year-old can sue her parents to pay for her college degree. That just can’t be right.

Readers of my column know I am a grand skeptic of the value of a college education, particularly the kind that cost a lot of money and require students (or parents) to go into debt. High-priced colleges are a kind of pyramid scheme, and we’ve seen recently that for-profit colleges are finally getting the negative attention they deserve.

In a million years, I wouldn’t guess who’s wrong and right in this situation. Who knows what’s really going on between parents and child here? It is, no doubt, more complicated than it sounds at first blush.

But it’s irresistible to jump to the thought that parents need to have the right to set rules, and set consequences. To put a fine point on it, parents have to be able to say they refuse to pay for college unless their kid follows their rules about curfews, etc. For a family court, let alone an outside family, to step in the middle of such a normal parenting decision seems unwise.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its affiliates.

This post originally appeared on BobSullivan.net.

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  • Anthony Caputa

    This is absurd. I’m a “Grand Skeptic” as you put it myself, but irregardless of that, there is nothing anywhere that says a parent has to do anything for their “child” once that “child” hits 18. If a parent so chooses they can boot their kid right out the door with nothing but a coke and a smile, MUCH less be compelled to pay for that persons College tuition. Absolutely absurd. Sounds to me like this kids a spoiled brat, and I hope the parents counter-sue the family who is paying the legal fees. Why don’t they just pay the college tuition?

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