Divorcing your parents – also commonly referred to as child emancipation – can be risky as this will pose a lot of challenges in one’s life. Emancipation is the legal term for a child that is freed from their parents and this may be due unresolved disputes. Generally, for all such matters, the best interests of the child are considered.
It is worth noting that it’s not the same as a legal divorce between couples. Although there is no unified legislation in Australia, the state laws are reasonably similar in their grounds for applications to the Children’s Court and the orders that can be made.
Divorcing Your Parents As A Minor
When a child graduates from high school, he or she is generally 18 years of age. This is the point after which a child is recognised as an adult legally, i.e. after turning 18 years old. Divorcing your parents shouldn’t be taken lightly and in cases where the child is still a minor, the child may be seeking to speed up the separation by severing the bond with their parents prior to reaching the legal age due to serious issues in the household.
In cases of divorcing your parents, this means that they can no longer provide their children with food, or anything that is necessary for a child’s standard way of living including shelter.
Divorcing your parents also includes termination of the obligation to pay for child support. Children become solely responsible for providing their basic needs and covering for any crimes they may/might commit. Minors may have access to the following:
- Have access to enter legally binding contracts
- Have access to work and keep all earnings
- Have decisions in their medical needs
- Filing lawsuits, or be sued in court
- Choosing their own school to attend
If we’re talking about divorcing your parents as a minor, there are also things they may not be allowed to do even if they are granted an order of emancipation. An emancipated minor may not have access to:
- Driving unless they’ve reached the legal age to do so in their state
- Dropping out of school without valid reasons
- Marrying without parental consent, if the child hasn’t reached the age where consent is no longer needed
Ways In Becoming An Emancipated Minor
This usually results in the minor’s emancipation. However, a minor can’t typically be married without parental consent until they are 18 years of age. Some states allow a minor who is pregnant or already has a child to marry without parental consent, but court approval may be required.
2. Military Service
Enlistment in the military may also be enough in some states to emancipate a minor, however, like with marriage, military services require parental consent if they are a minor. Moreover, the military has minimum age requirements that may prevent a minor’s enlistment even if they have parental consent.
3. Court-Ordered Emancipation
This is a legal proceeding that will require evidence and testimonies by both parties and the minor’s parents/legal guardians must be notified of the proceedings.
Reasons Why Divorcing Your Parents Are Considered
When there is evidence that the child is harmed/being harmed in a household, an application can be made for their protection. The Children’s Court can grant a protection/safety order on the grounds of:
- Child abandonment;
- Incapacity of the parents to provide assistance;
- Physical or sexual abuse; or
- Emotional/Psychological harm or neglect.
In Victoria, an application can be made on conflicting differences. Most of these applications are resolved outside of Court as they require parties to present evidence of a genuine attempt to reconcile through counselling and mediation. Irreconcilable differences play a big part in divorces as partners can also believe that their relationship is irretrievably broken.
Here are some common factors you can use when you’re planning on divorcing your parents:
- Frequent arguments over multiple problems
- Child-rearing or other issues related to the children
- Financial concerns and debt
- Religious conflicts
- Poor time management in the relationship
- Differences in opinions
If the parties fail to reach a mutual agreement, the Court may consider making an order to emancipate the child from their parents. The names of the protection and safety orders are different but have the same effects. The following orders can be made by the Court:
- The child is safe to live with the family, but an agreement is a must;
- The child is safe to live with the family, with the State’s responsibility in assisting the child with family disputes/issues;
- It is unsafe for the child to live under one roof with both parties, and the state removes the parents for a temporary period (can be up to 12 months). The goal here is to resolve the issues before they can be reunited with the child.
- If the issues/disputes cannot be resolved, the child is given a carer, preferably someone from their extended family. The carer can have parental responsibility for the child for an extended period (can be up to 2 years)
- If the issues/disputes cannot be resolved and there is an available carer for the child, the carer is given parental responsibility until the child reaches 18 years of age
- A permanent carer is given to the child to have parental responsibility to the exclusion of others.
If a parent or child seeks to have child protection or a safety order revoked, the legislation provides choices for appeal. A court will consider the said revoked order or protection if they are satisfied that it is no longer essential and in the best interest of the child to do so. This varies between jurisdictions, so it is only important to check the relevant legislation.
Importance Of Seeking Legal Advice
One must think twice, especially in the case of divorcing your parents. After all, this could affect your standard way of living and may affect your future conditions.
For enquiries related to emancipation, reach out to the Department of Communities & Justice (NSW) here.
Contact our team for all other family law enquiries or for more information.