While it is unusual for children to divorce parents, the fact is that the laws in many lands do make provisions for this type of legal severance of the obligations that exist between parent and child. Known as emancipation, the process makes it possible for children to sever ties with their parents when specific circumstances are present. If the court of jurisdiction determines that it is in the best interests of the minor child for the divorce to take place, the decree is granted and the parents no longer have any claim to or responsibility for the minor child.
It is important to note that a minor divorce from parents is not the only way that an underage child may get emancipation. If the child marries with the permission of the parents, he or she no longer is their legal responsibility. In like manner, choosing to join the armed forces, again with the permission of the parents, will also end the legal responsibility of the parents and allow the minor child to become accountable for his or her actions. In both these situations, emancipation takes place with the knowledge and consent of the parents and is not considered a punitive action.
When minors choose to divorce parents, there must be compelling reasons for the emancipation to be granted. Often, the reasons include evidence of some type of abuse or neglect on the part of the parents. Along with a demonstrated lack of responsible parental behavior, the minor child must meet several basic requirements before any court will consider an action grant emancipation. The child must be at least 14 years of age, have a reliable source of income, and be able to manage the income in a responsible manner. While it is not always necessary for the child to no longer live with the parents, courts generally prefer for the parents to consent to this stipulation.
The emancipated minor does not emerge without assuming a number of responsibilities that are normally provided by parents. The minor must continue to attend school, at least until reaching the age of 16. He or she must be able to obtain a valid work permit and assume control of making decisions about medical care. In some instances, the emancipated child may still be barred from entering into a marriage unless the parents provide their consent. Once the child reaches the age of maturity that is in effect in the jurisdiction where the emancipation is granted, he or she is no longer classified as an emancipated minor and assumes the status of adult.
Since the decision to divorce parents is extremely serious in nature, courts do not approve the petition without carefully weighing all relevant factors. It is necessary to convince the court that the minor child will benefit from the action, and that the divorce is the only logical and effective solution to any issues that currently exist in the family unit. For this reason, attorneys who choose to represent minor children who want to undertake such such actions normally gather a great deal of information before presenting the matter to any court.