Sounds a little like a Disney kid movie, doesn't it? A kid, probably spoiled and doted on, decides when his parents crack down on him that things aren't fair and takes his parents to court. Hilarity ensues! Well, not so much in the real-life realm of suits against parents.
Some of these cases are quite high profile and involve highly successful child stars, or former child stars, who turn 18 and realize their blockbuster money is pretty much gone, thanks to Mom or Dad. Or sometimes the cases are a bit more complicated or tragic, such as a child who was abused her whole life and grows up with the strength from somewhere to fight for justice for herself.
And then there are the downright laughable and bizarre, such as the recent and as of yet undecided court cases that seem too ridiculous to be true. The boy who sued his parents for making him a red-headed, freckled "ginger." Or the girl who didn't want to be born. (Really? Shall we kill you now then??)
In our society children are to be nurtured and protected, but also trained in the ways of life and given both responsibility and discipline. The problem is where these things intersect and where the lines are drawn, and who decides. Throw in a few million and things get way more complicated really fast.
15 Ariel Winters: Modern Family Star With Modern Family Problems
Modern Family child star Ariel Winter, now 19, was only 9 years old when she started on the amazing sit-com hit. However, back in 2012, her life turned ugly when she was removed from her mother's home for alleged abuse, such as slapping, name calling and emotional abuse. In May 2015, at the age of 17, she won her case for emancipation from her mother. Shanelle Gray, Winter's 38-year-old married sister with two kids of her own, has been Winter's caregiver since the removal from their mother's home.
Neither daughter has contact at all with their mom, Chrystal Workman. For a time, Workman maintained access to Winter's considerable actor's earnings even while their case was in litigation. Winter's sister never had access to her young sis' money, however. Ariel Winter still maintains a warm relationship with her father, recently posting a pic of him with her as she prepared to go to prom.
14 Jackie Coogan: The Boy Who Changed Everything
Jackie Coogan may not be a household name now, but in his day, he was everywhere. He starred alongside Chaplin in The Kid, and over a dozen other silent films. He was a member of The Little Rascals, Betty Grable's first husband and oh, yeah--Uncle Fester on The Addams Family. He, in his youth, had earned an unbelievable $4 million dollars, back in the 20s and 30s. It was estimated that he appeared in 35 silent movies, over 100 talkies and 850 TV programs/episodes.
His father died tragically in a car crash that also killed a friend and his brother. Jackie survived only to be betrayed by his mom and stepdad, who gave him $6.50 a week in allowance and vowed to not give him a dime of his earnings, stating kids don't have rights to their earnings; their parents do.
He only got a pittance back that he had earned when he sued, but a California law named after him protected future child performers from suffering the same fate. Coogan died in 1984 at the age of 69 of a heart attack.
13 Group Of Caged Kids Want Justice
In 2005, a group of 11 foster kids were rescued from horrid living conditions, including sleeping in cages and enduring torture forms of discipline such as being beaten with sticks, their heads forced into flushing toilets and being hosed down outdoors in winter. The children ranged in age from 1 to 14 years of age at the time of the rescue. They sued the departments of child protection involved and finally in 2014 the last of the settlements were reached.
The sadistic foster parents, Michael and Sharen Gravelle, did 2 years in prison for their crimes. The children were paid out $2 million by one Ohio county, and $1.2 million by another county. Some of the children have gone onto college already with their settlements, and a couple were featured in summer 2017 on the Dr. Phil show, reuniting with siblings and the man who turned the Gravelles into authorities and saved the kids from their abusive home.
12 Facebook Hacker Mom: Fake News
Several years ago a story made the news that had a hint of things to come as far as how new technology impacts laws and families today. The case was where an estranged teen, living with his grandmother for a number of years, got into a physical altercation with his mother. Apparently she pushed him, possibly more, and became enraged when he didn't return his house key to her. He called the police to report the incident. This only made her angrier, and she hacked into his Facebook account, locked him out and then posted messages to make it appear he lied to authorities about their encounter.
She also said not-so-lovely things like she regretted becoming a mother, and left obscenity-laden phone messages for her teen son. The judge wasn't having it. He chastised Denise New for harassing her 17-year-old son, Lane, fined her $435, ordered her to anger management classes and forbade her any contact with her son.
11 Case Of Gregory K: The First Ever
In 1992, a court case made headlines when an 11-year-old boy, known only as Gregory K took the courageous step to divorce his biological parents in order to find happiness and stability with a family who wished to adopt him. In 1993 Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrayed the boy in a TV movie about the case. Gregory won his case and was adopted by the George and Lizabeth Russ family of Florida, and he changed his first name to Shawn. He didn't have an instant happily ever after, struggling with identity and depression.
He had spent his youth virtually or occasionally homeless, bouncing around, often without his actual parents. He had an alcoholic father and mom was only 18 when she gave birth to him. She and Shawn didn't have the chance to reconcile before her death in 2006. This created a new grief to work out for Shawn. His adoptive brother says Shawn is doing very well and is the happiest he'd ever seen him.
10 Circumcision Kid: No Informed Consent
There have been a number of high profile circumcision cases in the last decade or so; some are leveled at parents, while others at doctors or hospitals. The case brought about by William Stowell ended up focusing more on the hospital involved, as he alleged his mother was sedated following a cesarean birth and unable to give informed consent to the procedure.
After winding through the courts for a couple years, a settlement was reached in 2003 for an undisclosed amount. Other cases have been won against parents. It has a chilling effect on parental decisions. While in both 1979 and again in 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics ruled that circumcision provides no known therapeutic benefit, and the American Medical Association concurred in 2000, it wavers back and forth in popularity among parents. No medical association advocates routine circumcision.
9 Grounding Overturned By Judge?!
A 12-year-old Quebec girl sued her father because after she violated his rules for not being on the internet, and specifically going on sites he had blocked, he refused permission for her to attend a school trip.
Her mother, who she didn't live with at the time, had previously consented to the trip. The girl had also been posting inappropriate photos of herself, according to her dad. The judge in the case ruled in favor of the daughter, who has since moved back in with her mother and no longer is speaking with her father.
His lawyer stated, "Is this what we want in our society? Laws are supposed to reflect our values. And if the courts aren't reflecting that, maybe the government will, to prevent children from going this way." Sounds like Mom is raising a real sweetheart, doesn't it?
8 Sued For College Tuition: But Not Going To College
In 2014 21-year old Caitlyn Ricci sued her parents for college tuition. The New Jersey girl sued her parents for $16k a year in college fees. The tricky part is the girl wasn't living at home anymore, after clashing with her now divorced folks over household rules, and hadn't spoken to them in 2 years. The judge ruled on Caitlyn's side, but her parents said not to hold your breath waiting for that payment. Not until communication resumed they warned.
However, fast forward to February 2017 when the case was settled and her father remarked that they would be a happy family again, and that they were all working on their relationship. Their daughter was attending Temple University and her parents argued in court she hadn't applied for all available financial aid and hadn't even bothered to tell them she intended to attend Temple.
7 Gary Coleman: A Mysterious End
"Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" was a catchphrase of the times. It was made famous by a preteen, chubby faced boy named Gary Coleman who starred in the comedy hit, "Diff'rent Strokes." He made a few movies as well, but once the sit com went off the air, his career stalled. Sadly, he suffered from serious health conditions from childhood, including kidney disease.
Sadder yet, he had to sue his parents for the mishandling of his over $3.8 million trust fund. He won his case and got $1.3 million, but he wound up bankrupt a decade later, something he chalked up to the mismanagement of his trust. He had bit parts here and there later in life, but really seemed to struggle. He died somewhat mysteriously from a supposed fall at his home where he struck his head. He died in 2010 at the age of 42, and his will left out his parents.
6 Olympian Dominique Moceanu: Remade Her Fortune
Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the legendary 1986 women's US gymnastics team that dominated the Olympics. Moceanu was born in California to Romanian immigrants and was coached from age 10 by famed Béla Károlyi. At age 17, she ran away and sued her parents for snatching up her earnings of over $1 million. She settled with them in order to gain independence, including financial independence from them.
In a life story that sounds more soap opera than reality, in 2007 she discovered she had a younger sister who had been given up for adoption, as she had been born without legs. Ironically, the sister didn't know about Dominique either, yet had become a gymnast herself despite her disability. Today Dominique is worth $2 million, and is married to a former gymnast-turned-surgeon with whom she has 2 kids.
5 Macaulay Culkin: Saved What He Could
Who could forget that face? The adorable little prankster who charmed us through Home Alone and Uncle Buck has grown up. He's now 36, and incidentally the godfather of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris. They two share a close friendship. But for the happiness we see today, he's had some rough times.
His parents went through an ugly split and Macaulay was stuck right smackdab in the center of it. Unfortunately, the child star felt his parents were more interested in the moolah than himself. After rumors of drug abuse and a long romance with Mila Kunis, today the star is worth $15 million and looking great. His case ended with his money being protected by further draining by his folks; his money then was in the several million dollar range.
4 Leighton Meester: Owes Her Mom Nothing
Leighton Meester, 31, is an actress perhaps best known for the TV series Gossip Girl. She has also appeared in a number of other TV shows and films, and has a singing career. She's married to Adam Brody, and they have a son, Arlo Day Brody, who just celebrated his 2nd birthday. While it sounds fairy-tale perfect, it wasn't always so happy. The young actress was born to a mom who was incarcerated for drug smuggling. Leighton was with her mom in a halfway house after a hospital birth, for three months, then mom returned to finish her sentence and Leighton lived with her grandparents.
At 11 she was beginning to find acting work, and she moved with her mom to NY. But things soured and she sued her mother for taking money meant for her younger brother's medical bills to pay for cosmetic surgeries. Her mother wanted the court to award her $10,000 a month for life, as she insisted Leighton promised her. The judge nixed that. Leighton owes her mother not a cent.
3 His Bar Mitzvah Gift: Don't Forget The Interest
In October 2007, young Jordan Zeidman was celebrating his Bar Mitzvah when his mother and grandmother popped into the festivities. His parents were divorced. His grandmother, Rachel Steinfeld, (whom Jordan calls "Baba") told him that she had given his mother $5000 for his gift, just as she had his two older sibs. Time passed and Mom never passed on the money. Written in his college fund bank statement was his Mom's handwriting stating, "I owe Jordan $180, and $5000 from Baba."
The judge found Jordan's evidence compelling enough to win his case. However, after other court costs it's likely his mother will have to shell out more in the range of $10,000. While it's not fun to sue a family member ever, it is also not so commendable to withhold a son's college gift money from his beloved Baba, either.
2 Jena Malone: Her Mom Couldn't Handle It
Jena Malone rose to prominence in 1996 in the hardhitting Bastard Out of Carolina, filmed when she was just 10 years old. She's been in a wide range of movies, from Hunger Games to Into the Wild to Stepmom. She recently admitted that as a new mom she has suffered from depression. Young Jena moved around a lot with her financially struggling mom and her mom's lesbian partner, and sometimes they were homeless.
She ended up suing her mother to be emancipated and to have control over her finances which proved far too much for her mother to handle properly. Jena was only 15 years old, but most people who know her say she is old beyond her years. She has made solid career moves throughout her film acting, and is now worth $4 million.
1 Corey Feldman: Staying Positive
Corey Feldman started his acting career at the tender age of 3, and stayed busy in some of the biggest films of the times. He starred in Goonies, Stand by Me, Lost Boys and Friday the 13th: Final Chapter. He was besties with Michael Jackson and was also close with the "other" Corey, late actor Corey Haim.
He endured as many downs as ups though, struggling with abuse, a fickle public and becoming emancipated at the age of 15. By 19, he had been arrested for heroin and cocaine.
He is now married for the 3rd time and has a child. He is active in environmentalism and has tried his hand at a music career, with little success. He says although he's had some terribly dark days, he is in the end, a positive guy.
Sources: People.com, DailyMail.co.uk, EOnline.com, ChicagoTribune.com, PageSix.com, IMDB.com, Biography.com, ABCNews.com, NYTimes.com, NYDailyNews.com, Philly.com, Time.com, NYPost.com, BusinessInsider.com, ArkansasOnline.com, ArcLaw.org, CBC.ca, NPR.org, DrPhil.com