Opinion Brief

Suing dad to pay for college

A Connecticut woman who says her father reneged on a contract to pay her tuition is awarded $47,000. Will the case set a precedent?

In a case that takes parent-child squabbles to a new level, a Connecticut woman has won a lawsuit against her father after he refused to pay for her senior year of college. Following her parents' 2004 divorce, Dana Soderberg — then an art major at Southern Connecticut State University — procured a written agreement from her father that he would finance her education until she was 25. Her father counter-sued, saying his daughter broke the contract by failing to apply for student loans and providing him with receipts. A judge sided with the daughter, awarding her $47,000. Is this where parent-child relationships are heading? 

Good for Dana Soderberg: Let Soderberg's victory in court "be a lesson to all you parents out there," says Patrick Thornton at MinnLawyer.com. "Your kids will remember the promises you make, especially if you put them in writing." This young woman shouldn't stop at a university degree. She has a future as a lawyer."Daddy’s little girl v. daddy"

This could unleash a wave of lawsuits: Some observers say this case will be an anomaly, says the Law and More blog. Don't be so sure. In this cut-throat economy, "college is a must for the job market" and "child-parent hostility" is an eternal "rite of passage." "Daughter sues father for breach of contract in tuition payments, wins"

Don't read too much into this ruling: The ingredients in the Soderbergs' case — divorced parents, children who find their father reluctant to follow through on a promise to pay for their education — are common enough, says Christian Nolan in The Connecticut Law Tribune. "But even experienced attorneys say it's rare when the disagreements grow to a point where litigation is required," so don't expect this case to amount to more than a cautionary tale for stingy parents."College grad sues father to recoup tuition costs"

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