How to Divorce Your Parents, Minors Emancipation, Can You Divorce Your Parents?

Can you divorce your parents? How do you divorce your parents if you are an adult child dealing with controlling parents or in-laws, or a teenager seeking legal minor emancipation or “divorce” from your parents? Are you dealing with a toxic, abusive and/or controlling parent and want to know how to “divorce” your parents?

I’ve received several “divorce your parents” email questions in recent weeks, from adult children dealing with over-involved, controlling parents who don’t know how to parent adult children, and from teens who think that getting pregnant on purpose or getting married too young is the way to qualify for emancipation from parents in order to get out from underneath their parents thumb. I’ll first respond to the adult children, then the teens.

If you are an adult child who has been researching “parents controlling adult children” or “controlling parents”, you likely came across my articles about parents helping vs. enabling adult children and didn’t think those apply to your specific situation (or they do apply, but that’s not what you want to hear and you don’t want to admit it).

How To Divorce Your Parents

Based on some of the emails I’ve received, I’d venture to say that there is a strong possibility that you may have a sense of entitlement that makes you want to “have your cake and eat it too”, but you can’t have it both ways.

If you really are dealing with “controlling parents” or in-laws that don’t understand what parenting adult children means or the need for respectful boundaries, these articles will help explain that “divorcing” controlling, toxic parents as grown, adult children may be the only viable option left to protect your physical, emotional, mental health and well-being.

Allow yourself the personal right to disengage, disassociate, and detach.

Reasons given for adult children divorcing their parents include:

  • Parents who hit and/or verbally abuse their adult children despite being grown, married with children and living independently of parents.
  • Parents who don’t show even the slightest measure of respect to their grown children, or anyone else.
  • Parents who habitually lie and steal money from their own children.
  • Parents who purposely attempt to drive a wedge between their married son/daughter and spouse, in an effort to cause a divorce because of not “liking” their son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

I could go on and on with this list of “divorce your parents” reasons, but you get the idea.

Part of being an adult is having the backbone or assertiveness to stand up for yourself and say NO. You can say NO by not answering phone calls or responding to emails or letters, not attending or participating in family functions, and not allowing yourself to get drawn into the insidious, toxic family drama that you find so upsetting.

An “emotional divorce” from parents may be temporary or long-term. You may discover, after a period of time goes by, that you begin to feel the desire to gradually reconnect with your parents, where new rules and boundaries are assertively negotiated and respectfully followed on both sides.

Or, you may find that the time spent not talking to or visiting with your parents over a period of time brings you the peace and tranquility you’ve needed, where you now have no desire whatsoever of ever reestablishing a relationship with your parents. Whether or not you ever decide to reconnect with your parents is a personal decision you have to live with, along with whatever consequences come from your personal choice or decision on the matter.

Emancipation of Minors

emancipated-minor What are your reasons to get emancipated? Saying “I want to get emancipated” isn’t good enough. A minor may seek minor emancipation (often referred to as teen emancipation or child emancipation) for reasons such as abuse, neglect, marriage, teen pregnancy, joining the military or just to be an independent adult.

Unfortunately, some teens throw around the “abuse” and “neglect” words quite freely and undeservedly towards their parents rules and guidelines, and think that emancipation of minors is their personal “get-out-of-jail” free card to do whatever they want without any parental oversight or control.

Reality Check: Emancipation decrees are rarely granted and the court reserves the right to rescind the right and place the minor into the care of the state at any time, for any reason, before the minor reaches the age of majority.

Sure, there are some new “rights” after becoming emancipated, but there are other adult “rights” you will be responsible for as well. Such as:

  • Support yourself financially. A judge will not grant your emancipation if you are unable to totally support yourself.
  • Paying for your own food, clothing and shelter. Getting and paying for your own medical, dental, and automobile insurance.
  • Pay all of your own bills. Your income must be from a legal source.
  • You must go to school. Emancipation and education laws require minors stay in school, finish high school until they graduate or reach the age of 18.
  • Child labor laws still apply, which means you can’t work as many hours as you may want.
  • As a minor, you can’t have sex, drink alcohol or vote until you are of legal age. Forget the idea of becoming a teenage pregnancy statistic just to become emancipated. The laws governing unlawful sexual intercourse (“statutory rape”) means it is illegal for a minor to engage in sex with anyone (even if it’s with another minor), unless the teen is married and having intercourse with his or her spouse.

emancipation-of-minors Running away from home and/or having sex anyway could very well show the judge that you are a troubled, rebellious teenager in need of counseling rather than emancipation. Having sex anyway could mean your “significant other” will find themselves on the list of convicted sex offenders; and it will not work to your advantage when trying to convince a court judge that you are “mature” or deserving of emancipation.

Teens, do you know the legal age to move out of the house without parent consent or permission in your state? If you commit a crime (ie. unlawful sexual intercourse) you may be tried as an adult in a court of law. Whether or not you become emancipated has nothing to do with being tried as an adult. (Age of Consent)

There is a big difference between emancipation and divorcing a parent, but far too often, teens don’t take the time to become knowledgeable about minor emancipation laws or ask the necessary questions regarding becoming emancipated, such as:

    • What is minor emancipation? Legal emancipation from parents is a process that gives a teen legal independence from his or her parent or guardian before the “age of majority” (18 years old in most states), whereby a minor may petition the courts to be legally responsible for him or herself and no longer under the custody and control of parents.
    • How old do you have to be to get emancipated? Emancipation laws vary from state to state. If the state you live in has an emancipation law, (only about half of them do) it usually requires the minor to be at least 16.
    • How do you get emancipated? In the United States, there are three main ways to become emancipated.

1. Get married - Getting married too young and marrying for the wrong reasons will put you on the fast track towards divorce so quick it would make your head spin. (See Marriageable Age)

2. Join the military – you must meet the military’s minimal educational requirements and provide a valid high school diploma or GED. The military must still be willing to accept you.

3. Go to court and have the judge declare you emancipated by “judicial declaration”

In order to get a judge to grant an emancipation judicial declaration, you must prove the following:

  • You are at least 14 years old (emancipation age varies by state)
  • You don’t want to live with your parents and your parents will consent
  • You must prove you are mature. How? Do an online search for “signs of maturity” and “signs of immaturity” and see how your maturity level pans out. Witness accounts from friends, teachers, counselors, YOU, employers, and other responsible adults who will provide testimony of various signs of maturity as proof for the court.
  • You can financially and legally support yourself
  • You must show that emancipation would be in your best interests.

Court cost of emancipation – To get emancipated, legal forms commonly known as “emancipation papers” or “emancipation forms” will need to be filed with the court. The average filing and court fee is about $250.00, plus the cost of your legally required attorney. Attorney fees for emancipation average between $800-$1000, if the petition is not contested by your parents, otherwise the costs could be much higher if parental permission is not granted. Can you afford emancipation?

Do I need my parents’ consent (permission) to get emancipated? Yes. Minors need parental consent (and consent by the courts) to get married and parental permission to join the military. Plus, the armed forces is under no obligation to accept you. To become emancipated, a minor must give his/her parents notice of the court hearing, and the parents may go to court to contest the emancipation.

Parents: You can do an online search for “Prevent your child from becoming emancipated” for more information on that.

Teens, emancipation is a very heavy responsibility and must be taken very seriously. There are alternatives to emancipation as well, such as your parents consenting to you living with another relative or family friend. Otherwise, you will just have to suck it up and deal with your parents like the rest of us until you are automatically emancipated when you turn 18 and can legally move out of the house and be on your own.

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87 Responses to “How to Divorce Your Parents, Minors Emancipation, Can You Divorce Your Parents?”

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  1. V says:

    Alo Lin.
    I don’t want to do this. I have to… Since I was little I’ve been around serious alchoholics and drug users… The physical abuse has gone to verbal which has given me to depression and mental setbacks. I’m 17 turning 18 in January 2012… I know it’s a very short time, but a day here feels like ten years of pain and agony. My 11 yr old brother has bonded with the father and I my mother. We’re cut in half as a family. The only reason I took my mother’s side is because I love her and I was hoping and helping her to see the h*ll that has been mine and her life. Although she has come around she will not divorce the thing that is ruiing what mental pieces I have left.
    The father has told me to get out of the hosue countless times and has literally called me a liar and an assortmant of other fowl words because of his insanity. He has literally lost it this time and I fear the once physical lifestyle I knew will come back tenfold. I want out of this household this summer if I can. I don’t want to be ‘emancipated’ so to speak, but I want divorce and to live with relatives that I have been forced to push out of my life because of this family. My relatives were the only happiness I had and they were taken from me a year ago. My ‘father’ has taken everything away from me, turned my once loving brother into a mini version of himself who abuses his own mother.
    I want my parents out of my life… I love my mother yes, but I can’t see her drink herself into oblivion anymore…I already have to have some mental help when I do get out of here to get my life back and forget the horrible things that have occured…
    I homeschool because I cannot take the stress of school life anymore, especially since I was kicked out of an artschool because my depression interfered with my liking of art anymore…I had my once great passion of drawing taken away becasue of fatigue…
    I only have one friend left because I like solitude compared to being out with friends… She wants to help but is in a similiar situation and somewhat refuses to help me because of her controlling mother… I’m all alone…no one will help me.
    I can’t find a job and get money to pay for the lawyer or anythign because I can’t drive. The family cannot afford the automobile insurance…
    My relatives would take me in, which would be shelter and I’m sure when I got there thigns would be better, I’d be happier and could start really supporting myself. I would definetly finish schooling and go to community college to become a Coding and Billing Specialist in the healthcare business.
    I just don’t know what to do, I need direction, I need to get a hold of the real family that I can’t call anymore because they cahnged numbers and I don’t have their email… Can you tell me what I should do. Anything to push me along to start getting out of here. I won’t last here for another 1/2 yr. It is impossible and not just because of my mental state…
    DCF has already been called to my house twice and I had to play it cool just so I wouldn’t get hurt. They ended up not getting the info they needed because I refused to get into it too far, afraid I’d get seriously hurt…
    I know these parents would not let me go. Well, my mother wouldn’t let me go…the father I don’t really know anymore…I believe he is just after torturing me….
    If I could get real live evidence that this is happening to me, can I bring it to a judge and be divorced from both parents without going through teh whole process…
    So please. I’ve left out hundreds of details… I just don’t know what to do. I thought I could hold out, but things have gotten way worse than I anticipated… I need direction in this whole thing… I know this is really long but I just need the answers… What are my chances if I did go for parental divorce? Could my relatives get full custody if I had the correct evidence to show the court or somebody? What other options do I have to get out of this situation besides the things that have been mentioned? And if I did go through with this could I be put under my relatives roof while I went through teh process to avoid the verbal and or physical abuse? And are there lawyers that will represent my relatives if they sought custody of me for a low or free price because of low income? I just wanted to know these things and possibly get some clearer answers to my specific case… Sorry for any inconveniance this long letter may have caused…

  2. stella says:

    if i were to do this, would i have to state my reasons out loud in front of a judge? or cud i just talk to the police? i want to separate myself from them, they obviously wont approve. they dont understand why i want to in the first place. if i wanted to separate myself from them would i have to say in court with both of them there that my mom has an affair? or my dad – sexually harrased my sister a while ago? cuz i dont want to say certain things in front of people? you know wat i mean? im only 15 turning 16 this november so no job. i want out. i’ve already emotionally separated myself. if i dont physically separate from them soon, imma die. legit. my parents dont know me, my dad who has never been a dad since of his work hours, now is unemployed. Now he tries putting the expectations/pressure on me? i cant. im done. cant deal with them. my mom says she moved to L.I for me. my education and because of me she has to pay all these taxes and thats why she cant divorce my dad yet. They both blame me for their problems. my sister who was physically abused, left our house at 17. I need my out now. if i left them, my mom can finally divorce him and live elsewhere with less taxes? my dad, idk he’ll manage? i dont care, i’ve broken away from them. i want out. I mentally can not grow with them in my lilfe. All there doing is giving me stress. i dont meet the terms because i cant support myself. what do i do?

  3. Cant say says:

    This was extremely helpful. I am a teenager and want too “devorce” my parents. I wanted too know if I was eligable for this. If you were too email me it would be greatly apreciated so I could tell you my stances living in my parents house hold. I have a family gaurdian who agrees with me and would take me under if possible. Thank you.

  4. Julia says:

    Hi I’m only 13. And I cry myself to sleep because my dad married the meanest lady in the world
    and I can’t be at his house anymore. My mom won’t sue for custody either and I want to know if
    I can do anything about this. Somebody help, please :(

  5. Megan says:

    I’m a teen 16 years of age.my mom and dad are divorced and I live with my mom. I don’t like living with my mom I would rather live with my dad. My dad is very loving and caring anything I need I know I can depend on my dad. Whenever I’m in trouble or something’s wrong I can always tell my dad because he’s there to listen with my mon it’s different she’s controlling she doesn’t appreciate anything I do for her or around the house she acts like she doesnt care about me she doesn’t let me out the house (most of the time) and when I do go out it’s only for an hour then I have to come back in the house I feel like a dog caged up. She has a way of making people feel bad it’s like when she talks she’s talking just to talk she doesnt think about what she’s saying she doesn’t care if what she says is hurtful. When I’m sick or tell her I’m feeling bad she wouldn’t even care enough to atleast take me to the doctor to make sure everything’s alright with me . I had a urinary infection and the doctor gave me a prescription for my infection she threw the prescription away. My boyfriend had to get me some pills!.. What type if mother does that?.!..I try to do good in school and get good grades.. And when I do get good grades she doesn’t say ( keep up the good work, or I’m proud of you) none of that. I never disrespect my mom I never called her names I’ve never hit her I always show her that I love her but she doesn’t do it for me in return nd she’s the mother. Whenever she’s having problems with her boyfriend I’m always there to listen to her nd give her advice.. So y can’t she so that with me?.. Why can’t she show that she loves nd cares for me?.. If she continue on with this I’m moving in with my dad
    Megan recently posted..Re-Thinking Fluorides: Fluoride Toothpaste, Water Fluoridation Toxicity, Fluoride DangersMy Profile

  6. kimberly says:

    hi my name is kimberly , ill be turing 15 inn 5 months. my parennts divorced when i was a 5 , both parents re-married. my mother married a man who has molested me ever since i was inn the 3rd grade he has other charges on him so i would say he is a very dangourus man. (sorry for mis-spelled words) my mother still up to today dose not belive me about the things i have told her about him doing to me,. My father kidnapped me and brother about 5/6 years ago. during that time the woman who he re-married would abuse us 24/7 , my brother and i would also work to pay the house rent , we would go around parks and other places selling burnned CD’s each of us carring about 2 pounds of cd’s and bringing home about $120-200 each time we would sell. my mother during that time that we were missing found us and took us with her, ever since then iv been with her,but my staying with her has not been pleasent , as u read iv been molested more than 2 times , my stepfather is now in jail for drugs and other very bad things. i wish to divorce my mother , *she belifes just cause shes an adult she is allowed to leave the house at all hours of the night and not telling me where to or what time she will be bak at. she will just tell me to leave the door unlocked. only to have her come bak telling me how it went with the guy she just had sex with *she also brings alot of men to our home and sleeps with them knowing we can hear everything. *some times shell leave them unatented leaving me in danger. *she also has a habbit of breaking things last time she threw me a glass blender for no reason. *she also thinks just by buying me food she has completed her motherly duties. *working for about 7 hours for 4 days excuses her from house duties. EX)” kim im tired clean the house for me ,iv worked all day and im so tired when ur done can u wash my work uniform, oh by the way i met some guy on the internet and im going out wiht him i dont know for how long so dont lock the dooor i might bring him back here” ext. the list gose onn but i was wondering if i had a chance of divocing her. i understand i have to provied for myself that is why i have been looking for a job but non-being 16 is not easy to have one. i strongly belive in myself i have literly raised my brother and have put up with a childish adult who dosent have the means to be a mother. i have no other option i have looked for my father thinking i would be better of but no responce imm starting to think and belife he is dead. my grandmother dose not want me or my brother. i have no other family. it is sad that such a grown person can be so stupid. i belive im 100% mature and i know that i can be better of wihtout her. i have suffered alot in my life and it has made me very wise and mature for myage and i thank god for that could you plz reply to my help!!!!!!!