As Philadelphia family lawyers we’ve certainly heard this question plenty of times. You wouldn’t be the first child to be unhappy enough with your parent’s actions to want to sever family ties, and you probably won’t be the last.
The short answer is “no,” divorce refers to the dissolution of a marriage and does not apply to any other transaction. However, that does not mean there are not avenues by which some children may win independence from their parents.
What are the options for minors who cannot get along with their parents?
Some minors may be able to take refuge with relatives, and you may even be able to get your parent’s permission to do so, which is required if you’re going to make that move without any assistance from the courts or the state.
Others may have to turn to Pennsylvania Children and Family Services to get relief. This is an especially appropriate option for victims of child abuse who are trying to get to safety, as these services exist to help with this very problem.
Some minors may be able to seek relief through the process of legal emancipation.
What is emancipation?
Emancipation is a process that gives a minor the legal status of an adult. This means you can:
- Sign contracts, including apartment leases
- Make medical and educational decisions
- Become legally responsible for bills, including utility bills
- Become legally responsible for taking care of yourself
Minors who wish to become emancipated must prove the following to the court:
- You have the capability to live on your own.
- You have the capability to meet any and all financial obligations you incur as a result of living on your own.
- You can make sound decisions about your own care.
The court will look at your past history and current situation. You can’t say, “Your honor, I’m going to get a job.” Instead, you would have to be able to show you have one, and that it’s sufficient to meet your living expenses if you’re out on your own.
Note that being married, having a child, or even being thrown out of the house by your own parents are not necessarily grounds for emancipation.
Keep in mind you may not need to be emancipated. Some schools, medical centers, and other services do have ways you can get access to their services without it. See this document produced by the Juvenile Law Center to learn more, and to get a full list of resources.
Here are Your Next Steps
It is very hard for minors to meet the standards for emancipation. First, you will need a competent family lawyer to help you figure out if emancipation is the proper path for you. Second, you’ll need one who is experienced enough to help you prove your case in a court of law.
Contact the offices of Sadek and Cooper for your free consultation today.