Family Law FAQs: Can You Divorce Your Parents?

Clarity Lawyers Australia Blog Child Emancipation

In Australia, the concept of “divorcing” your parents, also known as child emancipation, is a legal process that allows a minor to become independent from their parents or guardians.

While it may sound extreme, there are situations where this legal procedure is necessary and beneficial for the child’s wellbeing. In this edition of Family Law FAQS, our Newcastle family lawyers will explore whether it’s possible to divorce your parents, the reasons behind it, the child emancipation process, and what happens if you’re over 18.

Is It Possible to Divorce Your Parents?

Yes, it is possible to divorce your parents through a process called child emancipation.

Emancipation from parents means that a minor gains legal independence and is no longer under the parental responsibility of their parents.

This process is recognised under Australian family law, specifically through the Family Law Act. Emancipation can grant the child the ability to make decisions about their own life, including where to live and how to manage their finances. Or the State may be the child’s “legal guardian”.

While it is possible to divorce your parents in Australia, it’s not very common.

Why Do People Divorce Their Parents?

There are several reasons why a minor might seek to divorce their parents.

Common reasons include emotional or psychological harm, physical abuse, neglect, or irreconcilable differences that make living with their parents untenable.

In some cases, the state removes children from their homes due to child abandonment or severe family conflicts. Emancipation can be a way for minors to protect themselves from harmful situations and gain control over their lives.

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What Is the Child Emancipation Process?

If you’re wondering how to divorce your parents in Australia, the child emancipation process involves several legal steps:

  • Filing a Petition: The minor must file a petition with the children’s court, explaining their reasons for seeking emancipation. This petition should detail the emotional, psychological, or physical harm they have experienced, or other circumstances such as irreconcilable differences.
  • Court Hearing: A court hearing will be scheduled where the judge will evaluate the case. During the hearing, the court will consider various factors, including:
    • The minor’s age and maturity
    • Financial independence
    • Ability to live independently
    • Whether the emancipation is in the best interest of the child
  • Legal Representation: It is often beneficial for the minor to have legal representation to navigate the complexities of the legal procedure.
  • Judge’s Decision: If the judge is convinced that emancipation is in the minor’s best interest, they will grant emancipation, legally recognizing the minor as independent.

Can You Divorce Your Parents If You’re Over 18?

Once an individual turns 18, they are legally considered an adult and do not require a formal emancipation process to gain independence.

However, adult children who wish to sever ties with their parents can take other legal steps, such as changing their name or seeking protection orders in cases of continued emotional or psychological harm.

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How We Can Help

At Clarity Lawyers, we understand that seeking emancipation from parents is a significant and challenging decision. Our team of experienced family law professionals in Newcastle can guide you through the legal procedure, offering compassionate support and expert advice. Whether you are a minor seeking emancipation or an adult looking to understand your legal options, we are here to assist you every step of the way.

Emancipation is a serious step that requires careful consideration and legal guidance. If you or someone you know is in a situation where emancipation might be necessary, contact Clarity Lawyers to discuss your case. Our approachable team will work with you to provide you with legal guidance and support, while ensuring the best possible outcome.

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Rli Samantha@2x
Samantha Miller

Samantha has been a lawyer since 2001 having followed in the steps of her father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. No one can say she didn’t know what she was getting into!

Initially admitted in 2001 as a solicitor in NSW and Australia, Samantha moved to the UK where she was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in 2002. After working in several different areas of the law in large London firms, she determined that family law was her calling and hasn’t looked back.


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