While we might all have spent some time in our childhood wondering if we could be legally separated from our parents, it’s actually a pretty unusual thing to do – and with good reason. If a petition of emancipation is approved, the child takes on adult responsibilities in the eyes of the law (though that doesn’t mean they can drink or drive) and they must prove that they can support themselves. Yet whether it’s to take on adult responsibilities or to part from an unstable home, it’s a drastic decision to make. However, more celebrities than you might think have been granted ‘divorces’ from their parents when there are child and parenting issues affecting primarily the child. Here are 10 famous kids who divorced their parents:
10. Juliette Lewis
Wild child Juliette Lewis was emancipated from her parents at the age of 14, before moving in with family friend Karen Black and then into her own apartment. She then bought a car without a valid license, dropped out of high school and got into drugs. Then she appeared in The Wonder Years. She also dated Michael Dewitt, who worked as a nanny for Kurt Cobain … and Courtney Love.
9. Drew Barrymore
Another wild one, Drew was smoking at the age of 9, drinking at 11 and taking cocaine at 13. A regular at Studio 54, she was in rehab at 13 and attempted suicide when she was 14. Then she moved in with singer David Crosby, sobered up and a year later filed for emancipation – and has never relapsed since.
8. Courtney Love
Courtney Michelle Harrison certainly had a complicated upbringing, shooting from a hippie commune in Oregon to New Zealand and from boarding school to reform school. Following childhood highlights such as unsuccessfully shoplifting a Kiss t-shirt and applying for the Mickey Mouse Club with a reading of a Sylvia Plath poem, Love applied for and was granted emancipation from her mother, who was living on the other side of the world, at the age of 16. She went on to travel around the US, England and Ireland, living on a trust fund set up by her mother’s adoptive parents.
7. Frances Bean Cobain
However, that was only the beginning of the Courtney Love story. In 1992 she had a child with her husband Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who, in 1994, killed himself. Some years later, at the age of 17, Frances Bean was put into the custody of her maternal grandmother and her father’s sister. A restraining order was then put on Love forbidding her from any contact with her daughter.
6. Eliza Dushku
Dushku came from a happy home, completed high school and went to university. Why did the Albanian-Danish Mormon divorce her parents then? As a 17-year-old she filed for a petition to get around child labor restrictions, allowing her to spend more time on set filming for her role as Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
5. Bijou Phillips
At 15, Bijou Phillips left a home, where her father (John Phillips of The Mamas & Papas) and her sister were allegedly both taking cocaine, to live alone in a Fifth Avenue apartment with her own maid, while working as a model. Two years later, after becoming distraught over the heroin overdose death of her friend, 20-year-old socialite Davide Sorrenti, she went into rehab.
4. Aaron Carter
At the age of 16, Carter filed for emancipation from his mother, alleging she had taken $100,000 from his bank account without his permission. “I feel betrayed by my own mother,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He later withdrew the petition and the pair reconciled.
3. Dominique Moceanu
Only 14 years old, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the US women’s gymnastics team in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Three years later she sued her parents to find out what had happened to her money. The following month, her former coach skipped town after reports that Moceanu’s father, Dumitru, had hired a hit man to kill him. Dumitru later denied the allegations, but took the Fifth. Despite being emancipated, Dominique eventually reconciled with her parents.
2. Jaime Pressly
Jaime Pressly was another teen with a strong work ethic – she was granted emancipation at the age of 15 so she could take a semester out of school and accept a modeling job in Japan. Due to child labor laws she was required to travel with a legal guardian, but neither of her parents could attend, so adult status was essential. Coincidentally, however, her parents, who had been married for 21 years, were divorcing at the time – but as she says, “It wasn’t a Macaulay Culkin kind of thing…”
1. Macaulay Culkin
Beginning in Macaulay’s 14th year, his parents, who had never married, separated and began to fight over their (very successful) children – and $17m of little Mac’s money. His mother, Patricia Brentrup, subsequently won custody, and at 16 he took his parents to court to gain control of his earnings, eventually paying off Patricia’s legal debts and parting ways with his father. He would later divorce his wife of 2 years in 2000, at the age of 19.