Is there an abusive, destructive, or dysfunctional member of your family? Disowning your family is a difficult decision to make, but in some cases, it is the only way to move on from a painful past and protect yourself, your children, and your property from future harm. Depending on your age and situation (as well as where you live), you may be able to take legal action to keep your family at bay.
Method 1: As a Minor, Disown Your Family
1. Determine whether or not to seek emancipation. If you are a teen, you can legally disown your family by becoming “emancipated” from them. This means you’ll be treated legally as an adult, with the ability to make your own decisions, and your parents will no longer be your legal guardians. In most states, you must be over the age of 16 to seek emancipation. If you can answer yes to the following questions, this could be the right path for you:
Your parents are violent.
Your parents are unable to look after you.
You find the situation at your parents’ house morally repugnant.
You are financially self-sufficient and want the rights of an adult.
2. Become financially self-sufficient. A judge will not grant emancipation unless you can demonstrate that you are capable of living independently from your parents as an adult. This includes being able to earn enough money to cover living expenses, groceries, medical bills, and all other expenses. When you are emancipated, your parents are no longer legally obligated to provide you with money to meet your basic needs.
Begin by looking for work as soon as possible. Save as much money as you can and avoid spending it on things you don’t really need.
Change your address from your family’s home to your own. You can also stay with a friend or relative as long as the person agrees to the arrangement being permanent.
3. Obtain permission from your parents. When your parents agree that they do not want to be legally responsible for you, the emancipation process becomes much easier. If they refuse to consent to emancipation, the burden will be on you to demonstrate that they are unfit parents.
4. Submit the necessary paperwork. You’ll need to file a petition for emancipation, which you can get from the Circuit Court in your jurisdiction. You will also be required to fill out paperwork pertaining to your financial situation, employment status, and living situation.
Consider getting legal assistance when filling out the paperwork if at all possible. A lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your state will be able to guide you through the process and ensure that everything is filled out correctly. When you have a low income, look into ways to hire a lawyer.
5. Participate in a preliminary meeting and a court hearing. Following the submission of your petition and other paperwork to the Court, you will be given a date for a preliminary meeting, which you and your parents will both attend. Your situation will be evaluated, and if your parents object to your emancipation, you will be required to appear in court to demonstrate that they are unfit parents.
Following the preliminary meeting, an investigation into your home situation may be conducted.
If you successfully demonstrate that you can and should live as an adult, you will be free to discontinue all contact with your parents and family members, effectively disowning them.
6. Think about contacting Child Protective Services. If you are under the age of 18 and believe you are in a dangerous situation, contact your state’s Child Protective Services for assistance. The most important first step is to find a safe location. Once you’ve been removed from your family’s home, CPS will assist you in determining how to proceed so that your family can’t harm you.
If you’re not sure whether to call CPS, talk to a trusted adult about your options, such as a teacher, school counsellor, or the parents of your friends.
Understand that once you reach the age of 18, your parents will no longer have the legal authority to make decisions for you. Maybe you don’t like your parents, but are they putting you in danger? If not, your best bet may be to simply wait it out. When you reach the age of 18, you will be able to live your life the way you want.
Method 2: As an Adult, Disown Your Family
1. Put some space between yourself and your family. If you’re in a physically abusive situation or feel like you’ve reached the end of your rope, the most important thing to do is get to a safe place where your family can’t hurt you. If you are over the age of 18, your parents and family members have no legal authority to decide where you should live.
If you are not financially independent, get a job and see if you can stay with a friend or relative until you are.
2. Remove all contact. When you’re an adult, “disowning” your family entails cutting off all contact with them. Stop calling and answering your family’s phones. Email and other forms of communication are similarly affected. Don’t give them your address, and don’t tell anyone where you are.
Change your phone number and email address to make it more difficult for your family to contact you.
Consider sending a written statement stating that you are ceasing contact. Declare that you no longer want to communicate with them, that you are disowning them, and that if they attempt to contact you, you will take legal action.
3. Take into consideration obtaining a restraining order. If your family is physically abusive to you or your children, you should consider obtaining a restraining order so that they are legally required to stay away. Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs) may forbid your family from contacting you or approaching you within a certain distance.
Consider hiring a lawyer to assist you with the process of obtaining a restraining order. The procedure varies by state, and you’ll have a better chance of obtaining the protections you seek if you have an expert assist you in filling out forms and navigating court appearances.
If your family members violate the restraining order after it has been issued, contact the police immediately.
4. Make a bequest to your family in your will. Another way to ensure that your family has no influence over you or your children is to expressly state this in your will. Hire a lawyer to assist you in writing a will that specifies your wishes for end-of-life medical decisions, guardianship of your children, and the disposition of your property.
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