The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

How To Disown A Relative

How To Disown A Relative

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Family relatives are defined as more than someone’s parents, siblings, and children. Family relatives also include grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Severing relations with adult family members, depending on the underlying reasons, may not require legal proceedings or the services of an attorney. However, when one of the interested parties is a minor, it is advisable to consult with a family law lawyer because legal paperwork and court hearings will be required.

Disowning a relative is an action intended to terminate any connection with or responsibility for that family member. The following information describes the highlights of the informal and formal ways that an adult family member can disown a relative. An individual is an adult when he has reached the age of legal majority in his state. Adult independence, when a person is responsible for his own actions, varies from state to state and can range from 16 to 18 years of age.


When there is no threat of physical or mental abuse and you are living with the person, or persons, you want to disown, you can move into a residence of your own and not let them know your address. You can cease all contact with the family member by refusing to accept any written or electronic communications. You need to notify the family member in writing that you are severing the family connection and no longer want any contact or communication with him. You can send the notification using certified mail.


If you are being harassed or abused by a family member, you can terminate the relationship with the assistance of the legal system. A few available options are: to notify the relative in writing of your intention to sever your family ties; to obtain a restraining order to restrict his access to you; and to have a city or county official serve your relative with a Notice of No Trespass. If your relative violates a court order or notice, you can:

  1. Charge him with criminal trespass
  2. Obtain a Peace Bond (meaning he will have a financial penalty because of his action)

To ensure that someone you disown cannot claim any inheritance from your estate, your will can exclude this person from having any part of your assets. When disowning your parents, you can name a guardian for your children to ensure that your parents will not gain control of your minor children.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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