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Really makes my generation look bad. I know it was a legal document but come on, this is very selfish.




Arguing over money is nothing new for most families, especially when recent college graduates with massive student loans start looking to their parents for economic assistance in today's tough job market. And things can get tense when parents try to decide how much of that debt they're willing to help out with.

Dana didn't take a lawsuit against her own father based on a mere promise, however—she had a legal document to back her up.

When Howard and Deborah Soderberg divorced in 2004, Howard—a property developer—agreed to pay for the education of their three children.

Apparently Dana foresaw that his word wouldn't be enough. In 2005, she convinced her father to sign a written contract that would require him to pay for her college tuition until she turned 25, as well as cover related expenses such as textbooks and car insurance. For her part, she agreed to apply for student loans that her father would cover if she received them.

But Howard stopped paying her tuition just before her senior year, forcing Dana to take out a $20,000 student loan (co-signed by her mother). After graduating as an art major, Dana filed a breach of contract lawsuit against her father with the aid of family attorney Renee C. Berman.

Representing himself in court, Howard contended that his daughter nullified their contract first when she—supposedly—didn't try hard enough to apply for student loans. He even filed a counterclaim alleging that she dropped a few classes and kept the money for herself. In Dana's defense, Berman pointed out that Dana was forced to drop some courses due to the continued tardiness of her father's tuition payments.

"They just don't have a relationship," Berman said about Dana and Howard. "It has to be weak to begin with if you enter into that agreement."

Berman also noted how unperturbed Dana's dad seemed throughout the trial. "Here his daughter's bringing him to court and there's no sadness, no remorse that his daughter was in this situation having to sue him."

After two-day trial, the judge ruled that Dana had indeed fulfilled her part of the contract and awarded her about $47,000 in damages, which covered the initial loan, interest and attorney fees.

If a daughter successfully suing her father for nearly $50,000 to recoup the cost of her college loans sounds unusual, Dana's attorney would be the first to agree. "Nothing that I've researched has shown any cases like this and hopefully there won't be any more, because it's a sad situation," Berman admitted.

As an art major-turned-teacher facing a grim economy (liberal arts majors' salaries' dropped 8.9 percent in the last year), Dana's legal victory should ease some of her monetary concerns. But most college grads can't turn to the legal system to relieve them of their student loan woes. Unlike other types of debt—such as mortgage or credit card—student loans aren't wiped away by declaring bankruptcy.

That means grads who can't afford to make ends meet can end up defaulting on their loans, which effectively ruins their credit. What's worse, defaulting means being turned over to a collection agency—and the fee that incurs can turn an already imposing amount of debt into downright terrifying numbers.

Dr. Michelle Bisutti, for instance, finished medical school in 2003 with $250,000 in student loans. Today, she owes $555,000—and $53,000 of that is just a fee for being turned over to a collection agency.

The New York Times recently shared the story of Cortney Munna, a college grad who was convinced her NYU degree was worth the approximately $97,000 in loans she took out to pay for it. Now almost a third of Munna's income goes to covering the federal and private loans she took out to nab that NYU degree.

While most college grads don't owe money in excess of $100,000 (10 percent of the 2007-08 class owes more than $40,000), at least two-thirds of those who complete a four-year program end up owing an average of $23,000 in student loans.

And that's bad news for people who are slowly finding out a college degree isn't necessarily as profitable as they have been led to believe.

Recent studies indicate that while having a college degree tends to ensure a higher salary than those with a high school diploma, the increase in pay scale isn't as large as society often assumes. According to a study conducted for Bloomberg Businessweek, most of the people who recoup the cost of their higher education and out-earn high school grads by over a million dollars (over the course of their lives) primarily come from elite private schools.

For the majority of Americans who can't afford an Ivy League education, there are plenty of state schools that offer competitive academics at much more reasonable prices. The University of North Carolina recently topped Kiplinger's "Best Value in Public Colleges" list, and UNC grads don't seem to be hit as hard by the student debt crisis. The average UNC grad ends up with $14,936 worth of debt—a full $8,000 less than the national average.

So, for those whose parents aren't legally bound to cover the cost of their education, there's still hope for earning back the money you invest in your education.

Member Summary
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Are you suggesting that the father in the OP's story had sued his own father for tuition?
I think a better moral for yo... (more)

studiddy (Jul. 07, 2010 @ 3:08a) |

My ex-husband swore in court and it is in our divorce that he will pay for our son's college education to a bachelor's d... (more)

CGirl (Jul. 09, 2010 @ 10:16a) |

Sounds like you need a new lawyer. Call the one in this case.

platinumcigarman (Jul. 09, 2010 @ 10:19a) |

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Take all the back story out, it's a simple contract case. He signed the contract, he loses.

bigdinkel said: After graduating as an art major, Dana filed a breach of contract lawsuit against her father

The father can appeal the judge's decision. The plantiff was mentally unfit to stand trial.

only in the USA...

digging their own pit...

Suing their own parents for some $$$$ amount...? what next?

ZenNUTS said: Take all the back story out, it's a simple contract case. He signed the contract, he loses.

Even simpler than that, it's just another deadbeat dad story that makes the rest of us dads look bad.

The father should have added and opt out clause if she chose liberal arts. She racked up 40k expenses in her senior year?

Car insurance is a "related expense"?

I redded this because of the misleading title.

Deadbeat Dad gets sued by Child should've been a better title.

Wasnt she just enforcing what he had agreed to as part of his divorce? I'd say this falls more in the category of a deadbeat dad failing to provide previously agreed to child support.

bob349 said: The father should have added and opt out clause if she chose liberal arts. She racked up 40k expenses in her senior year?"...awarded her about $47,000 in damages, which covered the initial loan, interest and attorney fees." The original student loan amount was $20,000.

gwu1986 said: bob349 said: The father should have added and opt out clause if she chose liberal arts. She racked up 40k expenses in her senior year?"...awarded her about $47,000 in damages, which covered the initial loan, interest and attorney fees." The original student loan amount was $20,000.

So he would have been better off fulfilling his promise in the first place?

Wonder if he will leave anything for her in his will ?

The father should sue the school for accepting his daughter.

How about suing your father for mismanaging your trust fund?
The New York Times said: The suit, which had sought $1.1 billion for each plaintiff plus $5 billion in punitive damages, accused their father, Robert Pritzker, of robbing his children's trust funds in his divorce from their mother in the mid-1990's.

To me it sounds like his daughter is a snot nosed kid that is extremely ungrateful considering he paid for 3 years of her education. The father sounds like he is an idiot, for signing such an agreement in the first place. Lastly, you guys must have very generous dads, to call this guy a deadbeat.

JM80 said: To me it sounds like his daughter is a snot nosed kid that is extremely ungrateful considering he paid for 3 years of her education.Or the poor girl has been continuously disappointed throughout childhood by broken promise after broken promise from her dad, and is now mature enough to actually hold him to his commitment. Being (presumably) the first of three kids affected by this "promise", she is also setting the precedent that will help ensure her siblings dont get screwed as well.

Remember, the article says the promise was made at the time of a divorce; who knows what consideration he received (or whas claims were given up by mom) in return for this arrangement. It very likely wasnt purely a gift voluntarily made out of the goodness of his heart. There's alot of background in this story that must be learned before you can fairly judge either side. I think similar situations occur everyday, where dad has agreed to take responsibility for the cost but fails to come through, but they arent worth pursuing legally because dad is judgement-proof (ie, broke).

bigdinkel said: In 2005, she convinced her father to sign a written contract that would require him to pay for her college tuition until she turned 25,
My wife, in yet another display of great sympathy, asks, why couldn't she get a scholarship, and why did she need an extra six years?

Glitch99 said: JM80 said: To me it sounds like his daughter is a snot nosed kid that is extremely ungrateful considering he paid for 3 years of her education.Or the poor girl has been continuously disappointed throughout childhood by broken promise after broken promise from her dad, and is now mature enough to actually hold him to his commitment. Being (presumably) the first of three kids affected by this "promise", she is also setting the precedent that will help ensure her siblings dont get screwed as well.

Remember, the article says the promise was made at the time of a divorce; who knows what consideration he received (or whas claims were given up by mom) in return for this arrangement. It very likely wasnt purely a gift voluntarily made out of the goodness of his heart. There's alot of background in this story that must be learned before you can fairly judge either side. I think similar situations occur everyday, where dad has agreed to take responsibility for the cost but fails to come through, but they arent worth pursuing legally because dad is judgement-proof (ie, broke).


Welcome to the real world, considering half of all marriages end in divorce, there are a lot of disappointed kids in our country. Next this article was clearly written from the wronged daughter perspective as they did not even say her dad was unavailable for comment. Yet you still can get some facts of the fathers side.

The people in this thread, are making judgements of a dad who paid for 3 years of her education. That does not sound like a deadbeat dad or someone who does not hold to his promises. This sounds like she did not care to listen to him, think about his needs, and still wanted her money. Unfortunately for him, she had a contract and could sue her dad. This legal contract was between the daughter and her father, and not between the parents, again that sounds like a dad that cared and tried. Lastly she probably just won some of the money that would have went to her siblings school, as I am sure, he will not sign a contract with them. Yup she sounds like a perfect angel to me.

I'm waiting for graduates to start suing universities when they realize that the value of their degree isn't worth close to what they paid for it (or what the university tells them that it will be worth when they are a prospective student).

kantscholar said: I'm waiting for graduates to start suing universities when they realize that the value of their degree isn't worth close to what they paid for it (or what the university tells them that it will be worth when they are a prospective student).

I believe that has already happened.

Is he going to walk her down the isle when she gets married? I'm sure she will sue him for the cost of that also.

What kind of ungrateful child would make his/her parents sign a contract to pay for school? If my kid did that I'd tell him/her to pound sand.

subieaggie said: What kind of ungrateful child would make his/her parents sign a contract to pay for school? If my kid did that I'd tell him/her to pound sand.

Probably the kind of child who is intelligent enough to realize that her deadbeat dad couldn't be believed when he verbally agreed to pay for her college.

Wait didn't he already pay at least 60k for her free ride in life? That makes him a dead beat?

I guess she will be first in line to claim BK and walk away from a home because the system screwed her over.

platinumcigarman said: Wait didn't he already pay at least 60k for her free ride in life? That makes him a dead beat?

Again, ignore the backstory. He reneged on a written contract, so yes he is a deadbeat.

If my dad had told me he would pay for my tuition, I would have felt no need to make him sign a contract because he is not a deadbeat. This lady obviously felt the need for a contract, and she was proven correct. Hence the deadbeat moniker.

Did he agree to send her to college or Harvard? Did she agree to keep the cost down or just spend his money like there is no bottom? Did he run low on cash after the 3 children and ex sucked him dry?

EDIT: Property developer. I guess that answers the money drying up question?

What was the point of getting a degree and taking a loan that would not have given her a job to payback her loan? Since the parents got divorced, the wife may have turned the daughter he loved against him and he was taking his revenge, probably more on the mother, since the mom had cosigned the loan.

FriendlyPeon said: kantscholar said: I'm waiting for graduates to start suing universities when they realize that the value of their degree isn't worth close to what they paid for it (or what the university tells them that it will be worth when they are a prospective student).
I believe that has already happened.

Yes, it has. Frontline's College, Inc.

subieaggie said: What kind of ungrateful child would make his/her parents sign a contract to pay for school? If my kid did that I'd tell him/her to pound sand.The kind of child who had been jerked around by hollow promises for too long and was finally ready to call dad's bluff.....

Dad: Dont worry honey, I'll pay for college for you.
Daughter: Yeah right, dad. You know you wont follow through, just like every other thing you've ever promised.
Dad: No, really, I swear. I'll do it.
Daughter: Ok, then put it in writing. I want proof of what the promise was for when you break it this time.
Dad: Ok. But you wont need it, cause I really am going to follow through this time.

Worthless art majors...

Was the ex-wife part of the conspiracy?

daughter personifies the rotten mentality of entitlement so pervasive in modern American life.

whodini said: daughter personifies the rotten mentality of entitlement so pervasive in modern American life.Oh, there is certainly such a mentality driving our lives today. But in this case there's alot of backstory to be learned before deciding if this daughter personifies such mentality.

Hmmm... didn't realize contract law was a creation of the "entitlement generation."

subieaggie said: What kind of ungrateful child would make his/her parents sign a contract to pay for school? If my kid did that I'd tell him/her to pound sand. Well, I can understand not being willing to pursue a worthless degree without someone else paying for it. I wonder if she otherwise wouldn't have gone to school, in which case she'd most likely be much better off. 4 years of experience/ladder climbing/connections/saving vs graduating in the worst employment environment for unskilled/inexperienced labor.

I tried to find filings for the case, but it appears that one would need to go to the courthouse in CT to get a copy.

I am really curious as to how this contract was enforceable rather than just a gratuitous promise. What could the consideration for the father's promise have been? Is promising to try to get a loan on her own sufficient consideration? Was there detrimental reliance?

There's got to be more story that explains how she was able to enforce this contract. I notice that the father chose to represent himself in court. I wonder how well versed he was in contract law.

lastgaspjr said: I tried to find filings for the case, but it appears that one would need to go to the courthouse in CT to get a copy.

I am really curious as to how this contract was enforceable rather than just a gratuitous promise. What could the consideration for the father's promise have been? Is promising to try to get a loan on her own sufficient consideration? Was there detrimental reliance?

When Howard and Deborah Soderberg divorced in 2004, Howard—a property developer—agreed to pay for the education of their three children.

My guess is that the "contract" with the daughter was just detailing an existing obligation under the divorce terms....

Wow.... I wonder if next we'll see game addict suing his father for a game console....

BlueSeaLake said: Wonder if he will leave anything for her in his will ?
Haha, "$50k wise and $millions foolish"?

Skipping 14 Messages...
CGirl said: My ex-husband swore in court and it is in our divorce that he will pay for our son's college education to a bachelor's degree and he has not paid a dime. The judge said that the court cannot enforce it. I have taken my ex back to court to no avail. The only recourse my son and I have is for my son to to take his father to court after he attains his degree and to sue his father for his education expenses. This is the recommendation from the judge.

Sounds like you need a new lawyer. Call the one in this case.



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