Can a minor in New Jersey decide to divorce their parents?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Family Law |

There are certain other relationships protected by New Jersey state law that people may want to formally change. A child who has experienced abuse and neglect might want to end the relationship that they have with their parents before they are legally an adult themselves. They might want to “divorce” both of their parents so that they can live independently.

Divorce is the legal process through which married individuals terminate their relationship with one another. In the legal world, formally ending a parental relationship is a process known as the emancipation of a minor. What does a young adult need to prove if they aspire to emancipate themselves or end their legal relationship with their parents?

Their independent living ability

The first and perhaps most pressing concern in an emancipation case is whether or not a young adult can safely live on their own. Someone who has already obtained alternate housing and a part-time job may have an easier time than other young adults convincing the courts that they are a good candidate for emancipation.

They typically need to be mature and responsible enough to make decisions in their own best interests to terminate the relationship with their parents.  Usually, parents have an obligation to continue providing for their children until they are at least 19. To end that obligation, they need the ability to support themselves through work or relationships.

The neglect or abuse that prompted the request

Typically, someone pursuing emancipation as a minor will also need to convince the courts that the circumstances warrant such a major change to the family dynamics. Abuse, neglect or other significant parental failings are often key to an emancipation case.

Police reports and medical records showing that someone has historically experienced abuse or neglect could help. So could financial records that show parents have begun intercepting a young adult’s income, possibly with the intent of misusing those funds to support an addiction.

A young adult hoping to gain control over their own medical decisions and finances before that age must have the ability to take care of themselves and a reasonable justification for seeking the end of their parental relationship with the adults in their family.

Emancipation can drastically alter family dynamics but may ultimately benefit young adults who are not receiving the support that they require from their parents. Learning more about New Jersey’s unique family law practices may help young adults stand up for themselves when they endure mistreatment or neglect from the people who should support them more than anyone else.