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So, Who Here Has Sued Their Parents?
April 11, 2008 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Can I successfully sue my parents under estoppel? Is it even a possibility?

Let me explain my situation:

- My parents have money and came into quite a bit of money. They own several houses in the city in which I live in that are being rented.
- They explained that if I stayed at home and went to a university within driving distance, graduated in under 4 years and maintained a 30 hour week job, that I would be entitled to this house
- I made significant sacrifices in regards to how I spent my money (savings, furniture) along with several study abroad opportunities, classes I'd rather have taken, etc. all made on reliance to this promise. Any large financial purchase I made was made with the consideration that I would be a home owner at the end of college.
- At the end of college they stated they had sold the house earlier in the year and could not afford to buy me a house or give me any sort of down payment. I was not happy, I was devastated, but such things happen and I was sure if my parents could really afford to they would. What could I do?
- A year later, I find out from a family member that my parents have outright lied to me. They had actually taken the money from the house and bought a vacation house elsewhere that I was not told of. As you can see, we're not a particularly close family.
- Again, they can spend their money however they wish, but I'm loaded with significant student loan debt that is not being offset with the equity of owning a home. I would never have gone to that particular college, let alone live at home, had I realized they would have a sudden change of heart. I made significant lifestyle changes on this promise.

A friend mentioned that I might be able to sue under estoppel and regain some of the money promised to me. I no longer care about the house, but receiving any money, even to ease the burden of the private student loans (which I had to take out as they would not pay for tuition and they made too much for me to qualify for subsidized loans).

Should I even approach a lawyer about this? I'm trying to be as unbiased and unemotional about evaluating this as possible. Disregard any relationship aspects of whether or not I should sue. I'll be evaluating if I ever want to talk to my parents or family after this on my own, and I fully realize how this could destroy any shred of a relationship I have with them.

You might also be wondering, rightfully so, what I did to piss them off. While I do not think it is particularly relevant, the answer I received from this is "our money is our own and we'd rather spend it elsewhere." Which is the response I got. I have never done anything (a fight, drug problems, problems with the law, etc.) that would cause this. I truly believe they've just been intoxicated with living the high life and would prefer that to being with their family.

So, what about my legal standing? Do I have an opportunity to recoup any of the money promised to me? This wasn't just a promised gift, but a promised gift set on conditions and which I relied on to make financial and career decisions. At the very least I would think I would be able to seek compensation for expenses incurred based on promissory estoppel if I can show that the expenses and money spent were directly related to the eventual purchase of a house. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (44 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Should I even approach a lawyer about this?

If you're seriously thinking about suing your parents, then yes, see an attorney. Be prepared to pay a decent retainer for the attorney to be willing to look seriously at the case. And then, to sue them, you will likely have to pay the attorney up front. Most attorneys that I know, would not take a case like this on contingency.

Nobody on this site should be advising you on the legal merits of your claim.
posted by jayder at 12:32 PM on April 11, 2008



Should I even approach a lawyer about this?


Sure, they're the ones most likely to understand all the legal issues to take into consideration.
posted by drezdn at 12:34 PM on April 11, 2008


You need to talk to a lawyer and get more specific about what exactly was lost in this situation that you feel you are legally entitled to recoup.

Also: wow.
posted by uaudio at 12:34 PM on April 11, 2008


Do you have any documentation whatsoever of the promise of the house/home ownership/etc.?

But yes, lawyer up.
posted by Gucky at 12:35 PM on April 11, 2008


Wow, anon, that sucks. I have known other people in similar situations to you. If you're serious about pursuing your folks, do see a lawyer. If suing your folks doesn't turn out to be an option, chalk it up to learning a painful lesson about your parents, and don't ever rely on their promises again.

Best of luck.
posted by LN at 12:38 PM on April 11, 2008


On its face you have a very strong claim. The two questions that come to my mind are:

1. Do you think you can demonstrate in court that your parents actually made you this offer?

2. If you sue your parents, it will be very unpleasant and painful for all concerned. Is your projected gain worth this?

The less you value your relationship with your parents, the stronger an argument there is for seeing a lawyer.
posted by Mr. Justice at 12:40 PM on April 11, 2008


So, what about my legal standing? Do I have an opportunity...

As Jayder said, no advice can be given on-line. The outcome will depend heavily on what evidence can be developed to support your claim. But you have enough of a concept here that it's worth finding a lawyer and looking into it. Perhaps the lawyer will be able to negotiate something without anybody suing anybody. And I don't see any "standing" issue. Good luck.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:43 PM on April 11, 2008


Your best option is to talk to a lawyer, who will know the most about these things. Do you have any of their promises documented? Even if they will admit that they did verbally agree to give you this house, not all verbal agreements are legally binding.
posted by dubold at 12:45 PM on April 11, 2008


Not a lawyer, but this might be worth noting (if it's true)...

An estoppel is generally a defensive move, not a first strike. The plaintiff in a case can claim a number of reasons why the defendant should honor a contract or pay damages, for example. The defense must demonstrate that the plaintiff's own statements go against established facts in order to claim an estoppel.
posted by drezdn at 12:50 PM on April 11, 2008


(Interpreting this as a relationship question, not a legal question)

The issue is what type of relationship you want to have with your parents from here on for the rest of your life. If you're fine with having no relationship (and don't have a fear of the possible retribution -- e.g. there's nobody else you care about whose relationship with you your parents could poison) then there's nothing holding you back. Otherwise, you probably need advice from someone more familiar with all your relationships and history.
posted by winston at 12:51 PM on April 11, 2008


Also, don't let the issue of a retainer scare you off; lots of small firms will take a look at your case for free.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:52 PM on April 11, 2008


(drezdn that's a different use of the concept of estoppel -- here the theory is that there is an enforceable contract due to anon's reliance upon the promise -- it's also called "promissory estoppel" and "detrimental reliance." zzzzzzz)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:03 PM on April 11, 2008


Well, someone in the OP's fact pattern has obviously gone to law school, unless the kids are dropping terms like "promissory estoppel" down in the realm of the undergrads . . . so let me toss this little gem out there: you're looking for (or trying to update) the case of Hamer v. Sidway, 27 N.E. 256 (N.Y. 1891). Maybe it's just me, but I can't fathom a lawyer who hasn't read this case (it was the very first one we read!); given that, I think that craven-moorhead's advice immediately above may suite you just nicely. And if I'm not mistaken, I believe that the Storys lived unhappily ever after.
posted by deejay jaydee at 1:12 PM on April 11, 2008


Yes, talk to a lawyer. Before seeking a remedy from the courts, try to get them into mediation. You don't lose your right to go to court if you try mediation 1st, and a good mediator may be able to reach a settlement with much less hassle and cost than a lawsuit. They made a promise, you kept your side of the deal and they broke theirs. This has to feel rotten for you; good luck.
posted by theora55 at 1:14 PM on April 11, 2008


Thanks ClaudiaCenter, it looks like for the original poster to claim promissory estoppel they need to prove that it was reasonable to rely on the promise, and that they relied on the promise to their detriment.
posted by drezdn at 1:14 PM on April 11, 2008


[a few comments removed - this is a legal question not "what is your personal opinion about my life choices" question - take it to MeTa if you have to tell the poster off.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:26 PM on April 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


It doesn't pay to argue over the labels of the cause of action. A promise was made (although there are issues as to proof of the promise) and you acted in reliance upon that representation. This might form a cause of action, but it is quite fact specific and depends upon the law of your state. You need a lawyer to help you evaluate this. My recommendation is to forget about it. It's a big loss, and a big lesson. Your relationship with your parents is broken, but at some point you may wish it otherwise. If you pursue suit you may forfeit that possibility. Even more so the strain of legal action within the family is rarely worth the emotional toll it takes on all involved, especially over something as simple as a house. Yes, it seems valuable, but in the scheme of things it is just a house, not an empire, and more importantly not mental and emotional peace. Even if you win, I think you will lose. You are young and you have a broad future ahead. I would chalk this up to life's lessons. You must be angry if you are contemplating suit, but really, you should try to find a way in your heart to forgive your parents. If you succeed the benefits you get as a person will far, far exceed the value of a mere house.
posted by caddis at 1:28 PM on April 11, 2008


Hamer can be distinguished because the defendant repeatedly affirmed the promise in writing. It's just a consideration case.

IAAL, IANYL, but I think that you are just wasting time and money if you actually try to get anything from your parents on this. In most places, even in addition to all the issues of proof, whether you have fulfilled the bargain, whether it is revocable, etc. that would be present, you are going to have serious statute of frauds issues.

So, sure, try to get someone to give you a free consultation, or try to get someone to take it on contingency, but don't spend much and don't expect much.

I think that the issue of how damaged your relationship with your parents must be, and how betrayed you must feel about it, is a separate one, and you didn't ask about that here. But I hope that you try to work through those issues (whether with them involved or not), not necessarily because of your relationship with your parents, but because you owe it to yourself not to let this consume you.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 1:28 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't have any specific advice any better than the above. Just out of interest, I would like to know what your living arrangement was during college and is now. Did you live in the same house as your parents or one of their investment properties? Did you pay rent?

At the end of college they stated they had sold the house earlier in the year

sounds like the house you were living in transferred to a new owner while you were occupying it, or am I reading that wrong?
posted by Rafaelloello at 1:29 PM on April 11, 2008


As for documentation regarding their offer...check your email. EVERY SINGLE email from your mom/dad. Look for small things like "well if you want the house...".

Wow...excuse me for saying this, but your parents suck. BIGTIME.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:54 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Talk to a lawyer.

Think about whether you can afford to pay the lawyer.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:02 PM on April 11, 2008


You know yourself best, but the personal price you are going to pay if you sue might be too high. Think carefully on what kind of relationship you want with your family first.
posted by francesca too at 2:09 PM on April 11, 2008


I don't know if you ought to do this, but if you think you should, you must talk to a lawyer to proceed. If you're short on money perhaps you can pay on a contingency fee basis, but realize if you win that's really going to take a big chunk out of your winnings. Also, people have already said this but estoppel is an affirmative defense: You are estopping the other party from claiming a particular line of attack. Perhaps you can make a claim under promissory estoppel, which might be its own legal claim, I don't know. Also, at one point in common law, children could not sue parents and vica versa. I don't know if that's true in any state any more, but keep it in mind as a question to ask the lawyer.
posted by Happydaz at 2:34 PM on April 11, 2008


but really, you should try to find a way in your heart to forgive your parents. If you succeed the benefits you get as a person will far, far exceed the value of a mere house.

You know, I'm generally a forgiving sort, but the treatment described above is rather beyond the pale, imho. This isn't a case of they ran over his/her dog, or spent the college fund on something unfortunate and unavoidable. They engaged in deceptive behavior over a number of years, causing the poster to make entirely different life and financial choices that will have repercussions for years, and the only logical motive I can see for it is to have their kid stay around instead of go somewhere far off to college.

It's one thing to perform an action that hurts your child either accidentally, or because you had no alternative. Both of those things are what forgiveness is for. But not this. Offering forgiveness for something like this only teaches them that they can get away with even more egregious actions in the future.

I know a few people who have parents just like this. The parent does something horrendous, I hear from my friend that they're "cut out of their lives", and they do for a while. Then their resolve wavers, parent comes back into life, and I hear 6 months or a year later that said parent has come up with a new and novel way to disappoint/hurt my friend even more. Rinse, repeat. In these cases, just like the poster's, the parents' actions stem from nothing but selfishness.

Sorry to get so far afield of the question, I just wanted to point out that in my experience forgiveness will do more harm than good in the long run. Whether or not you have a case definitely depends on whether or not you can prove in a court that said promise was made. Documentation is preferred, but even witnesses may be of assistance. And of course it depends on laws in your area, which a lawyer will know, and we unfortunately will not. So talk to one. But my additional advice is if the legal route doesn't pan out, you should definitely look at not having much to do with your parents going forward.

posted by barc0001 at 2:44 PM on April 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


Not a lawyer, but fascinated by this question (though sympathetically - obviously there's a ghastly background to all this. And families and money often become a foul brew.)

One part of drezdn's comment touched upon whether relying on a promise was to the "detriment" of the person relying on the promise.

Which got me wondering: does the law pay any attention to whether the parents had arguably good intentions with making a promise they later reneged on (since it is "good" to want one's child to graduate from college in a timely manner, get and hold down a job etc)?

I suppose I was thinking ahead to how the parents might defend themselves in such a case.


If I was one of the parents, I'd be tempted to claim that making this verbal promise was the only way I could motivate my child, that I was only acting in his or her best interests in an obviously harsh-but-I-had-to spirit.

And that far from being detrimental in effect, the empty bribe has had the desired effect?

The child is now a qualified graduate who knows how to work - and forcing a kid to achieve this is the best "gift" well-off parents can bestow?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:51 PM on April 11, 2008


A lawyer taking this case on contingency is extremely unlikely. This is going to appear to lawyers as a "crazy plaintiff" case where any decent lawyer is going to charge a huge up-front retainer. Maybe I am wrong, but I urge you, anonymous, to shop the case around, and I am pretty confident that few attorneys will even be interested in meeting with you, and the well-reputed attorneys will charge a consultation fee and will want a big retainer ($5000 or more).

Lawyers who do contingency work generally do it for a small range of cut-and-dried cases: car wrecks, injuries in retail establishments, very clear cases of employment discrimination, medical malpractice (though med mal is a category all its own -- only really well-established attorneys, with big cash reserves, get involved).

Someone walking into the office saying, "I want to sue my parents on an estoppel theory," is going to set off all kinds of alarms in the lawyer's mind.

First, there's the "family drama" aspect. A litigator is not going to want to get in the middle of a family drama between a college student and his estranged family. Let's say the lawyer takes the case, invests a bunch of time on it in the expectation of recovering something, and then the family works out their differences and the college student wants to drop the lawsuit? The plaintiff is judgment proof, so even if the lawyer has something in the contract stating that the lawyer gets paid an hourly rate if the suit is dropped, this prospect basically has the lawyer getting screwed. And it's a very real prospect. A lot of plaintiffs aren't in it for the long-haul; they'll consult an attorney when they're really pissed off, but they don't have the endurance for a long-term lawsuit.

Second, the lawyer is not going to be impressed that the plaintiff knows the concept of estoppel and is walking into the lawyer's office with her own legal strategy planned out. That's going to set off another alarm -- "the plaintiff thinks she knows the law." Clients like that tend to be the clients from hell. The best clients are ones who know nothing about the law, who care nothing about legal doctrine, and you can just tell them, "We've got a hearing coming up in the case," and they don't even ask what the hearing is about, and they leave the worrying and preparation to the lawyer.

Third, the lawyer may not be comfortable that the client is telling everything about the case. These family dramas, with know-it-all plaintiffs and estranged parents, tend to have a lot of history lurking under the immediate situation. The lawyer knows that there are likely things that the plaintiff "forgot" to tell him or her, that have massive implications for the lawsuit.

And finally, I simply don't think there's a high enough prospect of recovery to interest a lawyer. Legal fees in civil litigation easily mount into the tens of thousands of dollars. Is there really that much money at stake here? It doesn't sound like it.

Unless you can afford to pay a lawyer to sue your family (and it doesn't sound like it), your best bet is to work this out with your family amicably.
posted by jayder at 3:08 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am neither a lawyer, nor your lawyer; merely a law student. My gut is that this would be a gift promise, and not enforceable by law. But your jurisdiction may have a strong promissory estoppel tilt (which may be used to assert a claim, it is not merely a defensive posture) which could correct the lack of consideration which would be typically be required to make this "contract" enforceable. Major statute-of-frauds problems, too. Again, this is jurisdictional but generally states contracts involving land transfers, or transactions over a certain monetary threshold, to be in writing. Again, there are various ways around the statute, but those will depend on where you're filing the case.

Doesn't hurt to consult a lawyer, however. Most suits settle anyway, so perhaps the mere act of "lawyering up" will put your parents on sufficient notice that they need correct the status of their relationship (personal and financial) with you. Good luck!
posted by herc at 3:30 PM on April 11, 2008


This is in MetaTalk
posted by jessamyn at 3:36 PM on April 11, 2008


Jody - Whilst you're initially working on the assumption that the estoppel method works, the common law tends to work on the basis of objective intent in this area. So for the parents to say "oh, we were never going to pay, it was for motivational reasons" won't wash if the reasonable person in the child's situation would've thought "sweet. I do X, I get paid".

The parents would probably argue no intent to create legal relations, as this is a domestic issue rather than a commercial one (although arguably closer to the line than some - e.g. classic domestic is "if I do the laundry will you pick up the kids" - no one in their right mind would try and legally enforce it).

IANAL, I only have a little (theoretical) experience in the common law, but not US law. Some lawyer-type may (and probably will) come along and give you the correct answer in a moment. And I may well be confused over my approach to the relationship between promissory estoppel and the other areas of contract law.
posted by djgh at 5:05 PM on April 11, 2008


I haven't read all the comments so I apologize if this is a repeat of what other people have said. The short answer is I have no idea and I doubt there is any caselaw on this specifically (but there may be something you could draw upon). The long answer is did your parents actually *gain* anything through you living with them. Something tangible. Were you regularly doing large amounts of housework? Were you taking care of a sibling on a regular basis? I'm having a hard time figuring out why your parents wanted you at home so badly, especially since you don't appear close.

Now there is also a possibility of some sort of reliance damages. I would talk to a lawyer, this would actually be a really interesting case, but not an easy one and courts don't generally like to settle family disputes. However, take into careful consideration how much this house was worth and just how expensive your lawyer is. This may not be worth it for you to pursue, IANAL, but this would be an ugly case to litigate, just think through all the possible outcomes before going forward, but a consultation with a lawyer probably isn't a bad idea.
posted by whoaali at 5:15 PM on April 11, 2008


IANAL, but IAAAAL (I am almost a lawyer) and I'm actually working on a similar case to this at my firm right now. I'm almost certainly in a different jurisdiction than you are, but just off the top of my head you may have a claim in contract through part performance (which in my jurisdiction can act as an exception to the Statute of Frauds in certain situations) or possibly reliance damages as whoaali suggests. Talk to a lawyer.

Also: listen to jayder. I don't think you're going to be able to find a (good) lawyer who will take your case on contingency, so think about whether you can afford to sue. It's not unreasonable to expect this to cost tens of thousands of dollars to litigate if it goes to trial (or even if it doesn't).

On the other hand, consultations are usually pretty affordable and can give you a good idea of what your options are.
posted by AV at 5:45 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


From now on, only speak to your parents in writing/via email, and feel free to discuss this with them frequently--see what they say. I started doing this when dealing with my mother stealing a bunch of my money, and eventually she said some stuff in writing that I could hold against her, which helped convince her to pay me back.
posted by sondrialiac at 6:06 PM on April 11, 2008


Sympathy for you. Family money/property disputes are the worst.

IANYL. But, I think you are thinking of Promissory Estoppel, not just Estoppel (there is a difference).

You might have a good case. Or not. Obviously, you'll have a better case if you have any documentation backing up your story, as mentioned earlier - emails, written notes.

Talk to a lawyer. Be sure to ask whether the Statute of Frauds will affect the case. Even if you can't get a house out of it, a lawyer might be able to get you some money.

But, seriously, suing your parents? Wow. I've seen it done, but that's a huge step in a direction that transcends anything law-related. They might deserve it, based on what you've told us, but who am I to judge.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:28 PM on April 11, 2008


What of your "shred of a relationship" with your parents?

If they derive some satisfaction from it, from speaking with you on the phone, visiting each other at Christmas, or what have you, then: While you're hurting, don't be their bitch. Put yourself and your self-esteem first. Don't see them. If you'll miss the rest of your family at Thanksgiving, organise your own family gatherings and invite who you like speaking to.

Later, if you decide teaching them a lesson isn't giving you satisfaction, or they just won't learn, then I suppose it's forgiveness or bust.
posted by hAndrew at 6:29 PM on April 11, 2008


Which got me wondering: does the law pay any attention to whether the parents had arguably good intentions with making a promise they later reneged on (since it is "good" to want one's child to graduate from college in a timely manner, get and hold down a job etc)?

From the previously linked old chestnut Hamer v. Sidway: William E. Story had promised his nephew, William E. Story II, $5,000 dollars if his nephew would abstain from drinking alcohol, using tobacco, swearing, and playing cards or billiards for money until the nephew reached 21 years of age...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:03 PM on April 11, 2008


It depends on the definition of "successfully" suing your parents. Most people value family relationships so highly that there is no outcome of such a case that could count as entirely "successful". There are many law suits where huge damage is done by working up a grievance into a case. Dredging up old slights and forgetting old benefits does not improve your life. Throwing in alienation from your family and things would have to be very very bad for such a suit to lead to an improvement.

There are some catastrophes that ruin people's lives. And there are some catastrophes that only ruin lives because the person lets them. Your life is not ruined by being manoeuvred into a situation where you wound up with a degree and with less student debt that many people because you were living at home and working a job. Your life will be a wreck if you let thoughts about what you "should" have had mess it up.

What you would like to do with your life from a starting point of where you are now (as opposed to where you might have been if a lot of ifs had been true)? Take the classes you wanted as evening classes? Get a masters in a more congenial direction? Go abroad? Would getting involved with a law suit really fit with achieving constructive and personally-satisfying personal goals?
posted by Idcoytco at 2:29 AM on April 12, 2008


IAAL, IANYL.

jayder's comments are bang on. You may struggle to obtain representation without a substantial upfront retainer. This is the kind of case that lawyers hate working on: a client emotionally invested in the litigation, unable to make commercial decisions, funding difficulties, etc.

Secondly, I understand promissory estoppel to operate as a shield and not a sword. Isn't it clear from High Trees House that this doctrine will not found an independent cause of action? Also, this is an equitable doctrine. I'm dubious about the exercise of judicial discretion to make out such a case on the limited facts that you've given us.

Per the above, obtain competent legal representation in your jurisdiction. The above is not to be relied on as advice, legal or otherwise. I am not qualified in your jurisdiction and basing your decision on what an English solicitor has to say about it would be idiotic.
posted by dmt at 2:51 AM on April 12, 2008


Before you sue your parents, I would urge you to consider a few things.

I can tell by your post that you're deeply angry at this turn of events, and you feel you have every right to be. You're angry because your parents exerted control over your college choices by dangling a "free house" carrot in front of you and then they reneged on the deal, but I would urge you not to retaliate by suing them. Instead of trying to win the house, I think what you really want--and what might suit you better--is winning control over your own life by making your own decisions about where you want to live and what you want to do.

Think about it--you gave up your own choices about college and classes so they could control where you lived. If you sue them and win this house, you'd be living in the house they decided to buy, so they'd have made the decision about where you live. What might be more satisfying, and rewarding, and healthier, is for you to save your money and buy your own house.

Whatever victory you claim from suing your parents will ultimately be hollow because you'll be outcast not only by your parents, but probably by your entire family. There you'll sit, alone in your own empty house, because no one in your family will want to visit or talk to "that ungrateful spoiled brat who sued her parents because they didn't give him/her a free house." Your relatives won't know the details--all they'll understand is your parents let you live rent-free in their house while you earned a college degree. Many people (myself included) would be very grateful to have had such an opportunity.

I would seek out a therapist, or perhaps take a long vacation or travel somewhere. You're young, and now is a great time for you to travel the world. Your parents may have acted badly, but that doesn't mean you should act worse. After all, the house was theirs, and at the end of the day, it's just a house. Let this go and take some time for yourself to relax, and think about where you want to live and what you want to do, because making those decisions for yourself is the only way you're going to be happy.

Good luck. I hope this works out for you.
posted by optovox at 4:37 AM on April 12, 2008


One of my sisters has wanted breast implants ever since it became clear that no significant natural breasts would be forthcoming. She was always one of the more insecure people in our family, and less likely to go to college of her own volition. My mom and I told her that if she went to college and got a degree, we'd chip in and buy her the implants as a graduation gift. While that wasn't the final word in her decision, I know it weighed in.

Three years later when she concluded her BFA, she asked, "So when do I get my breast implants?" Which caused my mom and I to go off into giddy gales of laughter. It's not like she can undo the degree she earned, and the ends justified the means. Besides, what's she gonna do, SUE us?

She didn't, and neither should you. You have significant student debt (like everyone else in the world) but you had something a lot of people didn't-- incentive. Now that you have the degree, it's vile that the incentive has been whisked away, but you have two things that can never be taken away from you, that may be the most valuable things you own:

1: Your degree

2: Knowledge of exactly what you can count on your family for, and what you can't.

You'll go far.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 7:53 AM on April 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


@[NOT

Errr, that was nasty. Thankfully with a university degree she can probably afford her own breast implants, but still... I try to avoid making manipulative promises to my family. It's the whole being honest with people that you love thing.

Also you didn't read the first post in depth. The issue was that anon was tricked into going to university at home, not that (s)he wasn't going to go to university at all. =/
posted by Phalene at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2008


I think one thing people keep forgetting here is that it doesn't appear that the OP's parents did this to benefit the OP. He/she wasn't thinking of not going to college, but rather a different college. One that may have been cheaper, one that may have included scholarships or one that was better in the OP's field and may have lead to better career opportunities.

We also don't know that the OP wasn't paying rent to his/her parents during this time. I have plenty of friend that did, and one that even had to pay the market rate (I would say possibly a bit above market rate).

I don't know if the OP has a legal case or not, but the OP's parents' behavior is manipulative and inexcusable. You don't owe your kid a house, but you also don't promise them a house, make them jump through a variety of hoops for four years, make personal sacrifices, and then tell them tough luck, that's a shitty thing to do to a stranger, let alone your own kid.
posted by whoaali at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2008


You will get all their money when they die if you don't blow it now. So make nice already.
posted by LarryC at 2:01 PM on April 12, 2008


Sounds like they deserve it, and it doesn't sound that difficult to prove (IANAL). Please send me a (m)email with how whatever you decide upon works out.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 9:46 PM on April 12, 2008


A little late, but I read a similar case. In Straatman v. Straatman in MIssouri in 1991, where a guy's mother promised him the farm if he would stay and help out. The ruling was in favor of the son. If you can look up Walker v. Bohannan, it can the rules that the court used. Also Watkins v. Watkins. Of course, in Straatman, the respondent spent 29 laboring under his mother's promise...a little more drastic.
posted by melissam at 9:59 PM on April 18, 2008


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