What is it Called When a Child Divorces Their Parents: Explained

Have you ever heard of children divorcing their parents? Yes, it’s a real and a growing phenomenon in today’s world. This is when a child, who is legally an adult, makes a conscious decision to cut off all communication and ties with their parents. And it’s not just about being busy with their own lives. It’s about making a commitment to never contact their parents again.

This may come as a shock to many, especially those who grew up in close-knit families. But with modern society’s changing norms, it’s becoming more and more common. The reasons for children divorcing their parents can be varied – from childhood abuse to disagreements over life choices. It’s a decision that is not taken lightly and can take years of contemplation and thought.

So why are we seeing an increase in this trend? Some say it’s because young adults are now encouraged to speak their minds and take control of their lives. While others suggest that it’s due to the easy availability of information and resources on the internet. Whatever the reason, it signifies a change in the family dynamic of our time. And as parents, it’s important to understand and accept this new reality.

What is Parental Divorce Syndrome?

Parental Divorce Syndrome is a term used to describe the complex emotional and psychological state that a child may experience when their parents go through a divorce. This term was first introduced in the 1980s by a psychiatrist named Dr. Richard Gardner. According to him, Parental Divorce Syndrome is a specific type of psychological trauma that can affect children who go through the divorce of their parents.

Some of the common symptoms of Parental Divorce Syndrome include feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion. Children may also experience a sense of loss and abandonment, as well as an intense fear of being rejected by one or both parents. In some cases, children may even feel that they are responsible for the divorce, or that they have to choose one parent over the other.

To better understand Parental Divorce Syndrome, it’s important to look at some of the factors that can contribute to its development. For example, children who are exposed to high levels of conflict and hostility between their parents during the divorce process are more likely to exhibit symptoms of Parental Divorce Syndrome. Additionally, children who have a close and positive relationship with both of their parents prior to the divorce are more likely to be impacted by the divorce and experience symptoms of the syndrome.

Overview of the Emotional and Legal Aspects of Divorcing One’s Parents

Divorcing one’s parents is a decision that no child takes lightly. It’s a complicated and emotional process that can take a significant psychological and legal toll on all parties involved. Understanding the emotional and legal aspects of this process is essential for anyone considering this step.

  • Emotional Aspects: The emotional toll of divorcing one’s parents can be overwhelming. It’s not uncommon for children to feel a sense of guilt, shame, and sadness when they distance themselves from their parents. The decision to divorce one’s parents is often the result of years of built-up frustration and emotional abuse. Therefore, it’s essential to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional who can help process these feelings.
  • Legal Aspects: Divorcing one’s parents involves severing all legal ties with them. In most cases, it means the parents are no longer responsible for the child’s financial support, and the child is no longer liable for their parents’ debts or obligations. It’s important to consult with a lawyer to understand the legal implications of this decision fully. Keep in mind that the process of legally divorcing one’s parents can vary depending on the country, state, or province.

Overall, divorce is a difficult process, and the decision to divorce one’s parents is no different. It’s crucial to consider both the emotional and legal aspects of this decision before taking any steps forward.

If you or someone you know is considering this step, it’s crucial to seek professional guidance and support. Remember, you are not alone, and there is support available to help you through this challenging process.

The Emotional Toll of Divorcing One’s Parents

Divorcing one’s parents often comes with significant emotional baggage. Children may feel a mix of conflicting emotions such as anger, sadness, guilt, and relief. It’s a process that can take a considerable emotional toll on anyone, and it’s essential to seek the necessary support to navigate this difficult journey.

Over time, children may develop negative associations with their parents. This can cause embarrassment and shame, especially in cases where the parents are abusive or neglectful. The emotional baggage that comes with the decision to divorce one’s parents can be lifelong and may impact future relationships.

During this difficult process, it’s essential to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional who can help process these emotions healthily. Many individuals find comfort in a therapist who can help them work through their feelings of guilt, abandonment, and shame.

The Legal Implications of Divorcing One’s Parents

Divorcing one’s parents legally involves the process of disowning or terminating a relationship between a child and their parent(s). The legal system recognizes this process, and the steps involved may differ depending on where you live. Typically, the process of legally divorcing one’s parents involves filing a petition with the court and providing evidence to support your case.

Once the process of legal divorce is over, the child is no longer considered the legal responsibility of their parents, which means they aren’t responsible for providing financial support, either. However, in some cases, the process of legally divorcing one’s parents may lead to the child losing any inheritance, which the parents would have left for them upon their passing.

The legal implications of divorce are complex, and it’s essential to seek legal advice before making any decisions. A lawyer with experience in this area can guide you through the process and help you understand the legal implications fully.

Pros Cons
Freedom: Divorcing one’s parents allows them to seek independence and freedom from abusive situations. Stigma and Shame: Society may stigmatize those who distance themselves from their parents, leading to shame and guilt for the child.
Legal Protection: Divorce offers legal protections, such as freedom from financial, legal, or criminal obligations that may come with the parents. Emotional Trauma: Divorcing one’s parents can come with significant emotional trauma, which can impact future relationships.
Peace: Divorcing one’s parents offers peace of mind and a sense of closure and control over one’s life. Inheritance: Divorcing one’s parents may mean the child loses any inheritance that their parents would have left for them.

Overall, there are pros and cons to divorcing one’s parents. It’s essential to consult with a therapist and a lawyer before making any decisions. It’s crucial to understand the emotional and legal implications of this decision fully.

Reasons Why a Child May Choose to Divorce Their Parents

Divorcing one’s parents is a drastic measure that can have severe emotional and psychological consequences. However, it is sometimes the only way for a child to protect themselves from harmful or toxic situations. Here are some reasons why a child may choose to divorce their parents:

  • Abuse: Physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse is never acceptable. If a child is living in a violent or abusive environment, they may choose to divorce their parents as a form of self-protection and escape.
  • Neglect: Parents are responsible for providing for their child’s basic needs, including food, housing, clothing, and medical care. If a parent fails to fulfill these needs or neglects their child’s well-being, the child may develop feelings of resentment and choose to cut ties with them.
  • Values or Lifestyle: As children grow up, they may develop different beliefs, interests, or preferences from their parents. While conflict and disagreements are normal, if these differences become irreconcilable, a child may choose to distance themselves and divorce their parents to preserve their independence and identity.
  • Parental Alienation: In some cases, one parent may try to turn their child against the other parent, often resulting in the child feeling forced to choose sides. This can create long-term damage to the child’s relationship with their parents, causing them to choose to divorce one or both parents.

Effect of Divorce on Children

Divorcing one’s parents can be a traumatic experience for children, as they often face feelings of guilt, shame, and abandonment. Children may also experience a sense of loss, grief, and confusion, as they try to navigate this new reality. It is important for parents to consider the impact that their actions and behavior have on their children and seek help promptly to resolve any conflicts that may arise.

How to Support a Child Who Chooses to Divorce Their Parents

Divorce can cause a rift in a family that can be challenging to mend. If your child has chosen to divorce you or your partner, it is critical to acknowledge their feelings and provide them with emotional support. Here are some ways to support a child who has chosen to divorce their parents:

  • Listen without judgment and validate their feelings.
  • Respect their decision and give them space if they need it.
  • Seek help from a professional therapist and encourage them to do the same.
  • Consider working with a mediator or family law attorney to resolve any legal or practical issues that may arise.
Signs that a child may be considering divorcing their parents:
-Withdrawal from family activities
-Increased anger or frustration
-Increased presence of anxiety or sadness
-Lashing out or acting defiant
-Talking about wanting to live somewhere else

Divorcing one’s parents is a serious decision that can have long-lasting consequences. It is crucial for parents to recognize their role in their child’s life and seek help when needed to prevent such a drastic measure from being taken.

The Impact of Parental Estrangement on Child Development

Parental estrangement, also known as a child divorcing their parents, can have significant effects on a child’s development. The decision to cut off contact with one or both parents is not one to be taken lightly, and it can stem from various reasons such as abuse, neglect, or differences in values. Whatever the reason may be, the consequences of parental estrangement can be far-reaching and long-lasting.

The Emotional and Psychological Impact

  • Children who have cut off contact with a parent can experience a range of emotions, including anger, guilt, confusion, and grief. They may feel like they have to choose sides, which can be emotionally taxing.
  • Parental estrangement can also lead to various psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. A child might struggle to build and maintain meaningful relationships, develop self-trust or confidence, and establish a sense of identity that is free of parental influence.
  • Additionally, a child who is estranged from a parent may feel like they have lost a part of themselves, especially if the estrangement occurred during their formative years. This can lead to a feeling of incompleteness or insecurity.

The Impact on Behaviors and Decision-Making

Parental estrangement can also impact a child’s behaviors and decision-making skills in significant ways. Some of the effects include:

  • Increased likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, and criminal activity.
  • Difficulty with setting and maintaining boundaries, which can result in trouble with authority figures and unhealthy relationships.
  • Increased likelihood of experiencing academic difficulties and problems with career decision-making.

The Impact on Future Relationships

Lastly, parental estrangement can significantly impact a child’s future relationships, including their ability to form and maintain intimate relationships. The effects may include:

  • The tendency to view others with suspicion, cynicism, or distrust.
  • The inability to be vulnerable and open with others or identify and express their own feelings.
  • The inclination to be drawn to toxic or abusive relationships as a way of trying to fill the void left by the estranged parent.


Parental estrangement can have significant and long-lasting effects on a child’s emotional, psychological, and behavioral development, as well as their ability to form and sustain meaningful relationships. It is important to recognize the gravity of this situation and seek out professional help if needed to navigate the complex psychological challenges that come with the decision to estrange oneself from a parent.

Effect Concern
Range of emotions Emotional well-being
Psychological issues Mental health
Increased likelihood of risky behaviors Physical and mental well-being
Difficulty with setting and maintaining boundaries Interpersonal relationships and stability
Academic difficulties and career decision-making Financial stability and independence
Tendency to view others with suspicion, cynicism, or distrust Interpersonal relationships
Inability to be vulnerable and open with others or identify and express their own feelings Interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being
Inclination to be drawn to toxic or abusive relationships Interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being

It is essential to recognize these effects and address them accordingly to ensure that the child can grow up to be a healthy, well-adjusted adult.

How to Cope with Divorcing Your Parents

Divorcing your parents can be a difficult and emotional decision, but sometimes it’s the best choice for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Here are some tips on how to cope with this difficult situation:

  • Seek Counseling: Seeking counseling or therapy can help you sort through your emotions and provide a safe space to express your feelings. A counselor can also help you develop coping mechanisms and provide guidance as you navigate through the divorce.
  • Lean on Your Support System: Surround yourself with people who love and support you. This can be close friends, family members, or even a support group for individuals who have experienced a similar situation.
  • Process Your Grief: Divorcing your parents can be like experiencing a loss, and it’s important to allow yourself to grieve. Allow yourself time to feel your emotions, whether it’s sadness, anger, or confusion.

It’s also important to remember that divorcing your parents does not define your worth or your future. Here are some additional tips on how to cope:

Focus on your future goals and aspirations. Don’t let this event define you or hold you back from pursuing your dreams.:

Set Boundaries: Setting boundaries with your parents can help you maintain a safe and healthy relationship. Be assertive in communicating your needs and expectations for the relationship.

Examples of boundaries: Explanation:
“I will not tolerate verbal abuse.” Setting a clear boundary that verbal abuse is not acceptable in the relationship.
“I need space and time to myself.” Communicating the need for personal space and alone time.
“I will not engage in conversations about the divorce.” Avoiding topics that may cause friction or discomfort in the relationship.

Know that while the decision to divorce your parents can be difficult and emotionally taxing, it’s important to prioritize your wellbeing and mental health. With the right support, coping mechanisms, and boundaries in place, you can come out of this experience stronger and more resilient than ever.

Parental Alienation and Divorcing Your Parents: Differences and Similarities

Parental alienation and divorcing your parents are two concepts that are often confused with each other. While they share some similarities, they are fundamentally different in nature. Understanding the differences between them is important in order to navigate these complex issues.

  • Parental Alienation: Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse in which one parent manipulates their child to turn against the other parent. This can include tactics such as badmouthing, manipulating, and outright lying about the other parent. This behavior can have long-term negative effects on the child’s mental health and their relationship with the alienated parent.
  • Divorcing Your Parents: Divorcing your parents is a legal process in which a child seeks to legally separate themselves from their parents. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as abuse, neglect, or irreconcilable differences. Unlike parental alienation, which is often a result of one parent’s behavior, divorcing your parents is an individual decision made by the child.

While parental alienation and divorcing your parents are different, they can overlap in certain cases. For example, a child may seek to divorce their parent as a result of years of emotional abuse and manipulation. Alternatively, a parent who is engaging in parental alienation may ultimately drive their child to seek legal separation.

It’s important to seek help and support if you or someone you know is experiencing parental alienation or considering divorcing their parents. This can include speaking with a therapist or counselor, reaching out to support groups, or seeking legal advice. Both parental alienation and divorcing your parents can be emotionally complex and difficult issues to navigate, but with help and support, it’s possible to move forward and heal.

Parental Alienation Divorcing Your Parents
Emotional abuse Legal process
Manipulation tactics Individual decision
Can have long-term negative effects on mental health and relationship with alienated parent Made for a variety of reasons, such as abuse, neglect, or irreconcilable differences

Regardless of the specific situation, it’s important to take action if you or someone you know is experiencing parental alienation or considering divorcing their parents. Seek out resources and support to help navigate these complex and difficult issues.

Changing the Law: Advocating for the Right to Divorce Your Parents

Divorcing one’s parent or being legally emancipated from them is a topic that is gaining attention in recent years, and advocates are pushing for laws that allow minors to do so. Here are the reasons why:

  • Child abuse: Some parents become abusive towards their children, both physically and emotionally. A child who is experiencing this kind of abuse may feel unsafe and unheard within their home, and this puts them in a vulnerable position. By allowing them to divorce their parents, they can distance themselves from their abusers and find a safer environment.
  • Neglect: Neglect happens when parents fail to provide their children with basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Neglected children are likely to develop health problems and behavioral issues because of the lack of care, which can affect their growth and development. Emancipating themselves from their parents can give neglected children access to better care and resources.
  • Parental alienation: Parental alienation happens when one parent intentionally turns the child against the other parent. The alienated parent is often shut out of their child’s life, and the child is made to believe that the alienated parent is dangerous or undesirable. Advocates argue that allowing children to divorce their parents in cases of parental alienation can prevent further damage to their fragile minds and reduce the incidence of parent-child estrangement.

It’s important to note that allowing minors to divorce their parents is a serious decision and should only be done if the child’s well-being is at stake. There are also a few legal barriers that need to be addressed before this becomes a reality.

Proponents of parental divorce advocate for the following changes:

  • Awareness and education: Many people are still not aware that parental divorce is even a possibility. Advocates call for more education campaigns and awareness-raising initiatives so that more children can be aware of their rights and access legal help when they need it.
  • Laws: Laws regarding parental divorce vary from state to state, and many states don’t have laws that can protect minors who want to divorce their parents. Advocates are pushing for more comprehensive and child-friendly laws that will address the issues that lead to parental divorce in the first place.
  • Legal assistance: Oftentimes, minors may not be able to afford legal assistance on their own. Advocates are calling for the establishment of legal aid programs that can help minors navigate the legal process and protect their rights.

The legal process of parental divorce is not simple, and it can take a while for the case to be settled. To better understand the legal process and the requirements for parental divorce, the following table outlines some legal facts that need to be considered:

Legal Fact Explanation
Age restrictions Each state has different age restrictions for parental divorce.
Reasons for Divorce Minors need to have valid reasons, such as abuse, neglect, or parental alienation, to divorce their parents.
Judicial Process Minors need to go through the Judicial Process for parental divorce, which can take months to complete.
Alternative to Divorce Divorce should be a last resort, and alternative options should be considered first. This includes seeking counseling or mediation.

Parental divorce may not be the right decision for everyone, but it is important that minors are aware of their legal rights and can access help when they need it. Through continued advocacy and awareness-raising efforts, we can work towards a future where all children can feel safe, loved, and supported.

FAQs about What is It Called When a Child Divorces Their Parents

Q: What do you mean by a child divorcing their parents?
A: When a child cuts off contact with their parent or both parents, it is referred to as a “divorce” from the parent(s).

Q: Is it a legal process?
A: No, it is not a legal process. It simply means that the child has decided to sever ties with their parent(s) on their own accord.

Q: What are some reasons a child might decide to divorce their parents?
A: The reasons can vary from family conflict, abuse, neglect, differing values and beliefs, or a feeling of betrayal by the parent(s).

Q: At what age is a child allowed to make this decision?
A: There is no specific age at which a child is allowed to make this decision. It can occur at any age, depending on the circumstances.

Q: Can the parent(s) do anything to prevent their child from divorcing them?
A: It depends on the reason why the child decided to cut off contact. Parents should try to resolve the conflict, make amends for past actions, or seek professional help if the issue stems from abuse or neglect.

Q: Can a child change their mind and reconnect with their parent(s) after divorcing them?
A: Yes, it is possible for children to reconnect with their parent(s) later in life if they feel the issues that caused the divorce have been resolved.

Q: How can a parent cope with being divorced by their child?
A: It can be challenging for parents to accept that their child has decided to cut off ties, but seeking professional help, finding support from friends and family, and focusing on self-care can be helpful in coping with the pain and emotions.

Closing Title: Thanks for Reading About What it Means When a Child Divorces Their Parents!

We hope this article answered your questions about what it means when a child divorces their parents. Remember that it’s a sensitive topic, and there could be reasons why the child made that decision. It’s essential to try to understand the underlying cause and focus on resolving the issues rather than getting defensive. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon!