The Law Dictionary

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How To Divorce Your Parents

How To Divorce Your Parents

Sometimes children are more responsible than their parents. It is a sad fact of life. Here is how to divorce your parents.

“I Don’t Want to Live with My Parents”

We all have difficulties and disagreements with our parents. When you are angry over something your parents did, you need some objective perspective. Is this normal? Do they care about me? Or are their actions toxic, abusive or harmful?

You might want to disengage, disassociate or detach yourself from them, but they are your parents. They have legal authority and control over you. You want them to respect your boundaries.

Even though you want to leave, you can’t just run away because your parents have legal authority over you. The wisest path is legal emancipation.

“Minor Emancipation at Age 18”

For most states, the legal age of emancipation is 18. Parents have the legal authority, duty, responsibility and physical custody over children until that “age of majority.” Children are not supposed to sign contracts, drink or do any other “adult” activities.

But sometimes, parents can be neglectful, harmful, or abusive to their children. Drunken or drug-addicted parents might get arrested and need their children to bail them out of jail. Or worse yet, the parents might steal their son’s or daughter’s money.


“Leaving Home Laws Vary by State”

Child labor laws still apply whether you live at home or are legally emancipated. You must work to be able to pay for your:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Transportation
  • House

You still cannot vote or drink alcohol. You must show “signs of maturity” to qualify for legal emancipation.

Check out the local courthouse for “emancipation forms.” You will need to pay a fee and might need to hire a lawyer. The courts will ask you “Why do you want emancipation?” The primary legal reasons are the following: neglect, abuse, pregnancy, marriage, military, or assuming adult responsibilities. You will need to prove your case.

The court will probably ask you – “How will you pay for your expenses.” Fill out your papers, file them, and wait for your hearing date. At the hearing, your parents have the right to “contest” your request. Both sides will be able to make their arguments. Even if granted, a court reserves the right to rescind its grant of child emancipation. Most of the children who succeed with legal emancipation lawsuits tend to be child actors.


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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