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Legal question: How do you cut legal ties with your parents?

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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:39 AM
Original message
Legal question: How do you cut legal ties with your parents?
Call me a reactionary, but I have been wondering about this question for a few years now. I guess the Schiavo situation has finally made me want to act on this.

I want to cut all legal ties with my parents--for many reasons. They're fundies. They were sexually, emotionally and physically abusive to me as a child, and have taken no responsibility for their actions. They are upper-middle class people who appear normal, but are anything but normal. They're highly controlling, abusive, sick people and they are angry at me for cutting off contact with them.

I confronted my father about the sexual abuse three years ago. He went on a "poor me" rampage. He contacted a priest (who knows me well and was my high school principal). My father successfully positioned himself as the victim and the priest believed him.

I mainly want to sever legal ties for the following reasons:

1.) I wouldn't want them making ANY decisions regarding feeding tubes, etc.
2.) I definitely don't want them in the picture with regard to my own children, should something happen to me.
3.) I studied the Grandparent Visitation Laws in my state. My parents, since they technically are my kids' "grandparents" have the right to petition the courts to receive unsupervised visits with my 2 preschool-aged children. No way in hell do I want that to happen.

I plan to draw up a living will and other documents expressing my wishes. I'm wondering if severing legal ties would provide an additional layer of protection.

Furthermore, I was adopted at birth. I don't know if that makes any difference. Maybe I could get the adoption nullified.

Does anyone have any opinion or insight?
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havocmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
1. Instead of a living will, which are sometimes ignored, can you trust
someone with a medical power of attorney for your care should you be unable to speak for yourself? I believe it is more binding and if you are of age, it would pre-empt any claim your parents make to decide on your fate.

As for legally cutting ties, if you are of age, I do not think there would be a problem with just severing your relationship if it is that toxic. So long as there is someone whom you trust to speak for you, a power of attorney to enforce your decision that such person is acting as your agent, your parents are basically SOL if you want them to be out.

If you are not yet of age and are self supporting, you might look into your home state's requirements as to being declared an emancipated minor.

Get an attorney or see if there is an agency which will help you with the local laws.
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Marnieworld Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:49 AM
Response to Original message
2. Great question!
First of all sparkles- :hug:

I also have severed my ties with my parents. They were/are both alcoholics who were very emotionally abusive to me. I am married so legally my husband is next of kin but we have seen how that has played out recently. I don't have or will ever have children so at least that isn't an issue for me. I see how protecting your children from your parents would be paramount for you however. I too would like to know how to legally terminate their rights to me in any way. I would hate if something were to happen to me and they buried me with a catholic mass like they did my sister. She was an atheist since she could speak but that didn't matter to them at all.

I have been thinking about issues like this through the whole Schiavo affair. How can we assume that she had a good relationship with her parents? I know from my own experience that it is laughable to compare the bond that I have with my husband and what passed as love from my parents.

So now I'm looking into living wills but an official severence would be something I'd be interested in too.
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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:05 AM
Response to Reply #2
13. Marnieworld...
I think many of us--with dysfunctional parents--have been forced to think about these issues, as we watch the Schiavo situation play out.

Like you, I also wonder about Terri's real relationship with her parents. She had an eating disorder, and it developed while she was a teenager and living with them.

I'm glad you have such a loving relationship with your husband, and that you've broken the cycle of abuse.

It's too bad that your parents defied your sister's wishes. I can understand why you would want to officially sever ties. I definitely understand those feelings.

Here's hoping that we both find some good information about this.
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Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:49 AM
Response to Original message
3. Are you married? If so, wouldn't your husband make those
decisions? If not married, what about the biological father of your children? Have his rights been terminated? Wouldn't he be responsible for your kids if something happened to you?

On living wills, be sure to name someone as your Power of Attorney, so your parents can't interfere. Your POA would make those end of life decisions.
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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #3
10. Yes, I am married...
...and I assume that my husband would make decisions regarding my end-of-life decisions.

The end-of-life decisions are one of several concerns.

I worry about my parents seeking visitation to see my children. I want them legally cut out, so they have no claims to my family.

There are hundreds of fit parents in the United States--who have been sued for "grandparent visitation". Many grandparents have won unsupervised, overnight visitation--despite the protests of the parents who do not want these "grandparents" to see their children.

I don't want my "parents" making any decisions about me. I don't want them to have any standing, whatsoever.

I plan on living a long, happy life--but if something should happen to me, there would be little proof of the abuse that I know happened. Without my word and testament to their dysfunction--they could get visitation with my children or make decisions regarding my burial, medical decisions--similar to what the Schiavo parents are doing now.

I could see them pulling a Schiavo-type situation.
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Fleshdancer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:50 AM
Response to Original message
4. I am so very sorry for what those assholes did to you
If I were in your position, I would want the same thing for myself. Congrats by the way on the wisdom and strength to get as far away from them as possible...both legally and emotionally.

I wish I had answers to your questions because you bring up some very interesting ideas. Can one nullify their own adoption? I would love to know the answer to that. The visitation rights definitely need to be looked into, especially since we're talking about known abusers.

There are many lawyers on DU but the one that stands out in my mind is Oldleftylawyer because she was kind enough to mail the documents and info I needed to create a living will. I'll try to PM her to take a look at this post.
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Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Yeah, she'd be a good authority on this, I think.
OldLeftyLawyer, that is.
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:54 AM
Response to Original message
5. You may also want to be specific in your living will
that you DO NOT WANT any imput, interferance, or consideration given to your parents. So its clear to providers or lawyers that you desire to have no contact or association with them.
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Horse with no Name Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:57 AM
Response to Original message
7. Thats a tough question
I know of cases where children divorced their parents.
What you can do though, is to have a living will/advanced directive. You will need to appoint a healthcare guardian, and you should probably appoint someone as guardian over your affairs should you become incapacitated.
As far as your kids, I would draw up explicit instructions as to where they are to go and who is to take care of them.
I would also figure out how to file that your parents were abusive so that even if they did get rights if something happened, they would be supervised visits only.
I would call a woman's clinic or a hospital or the Department of Human Services and ask if you can speak to their social worker. They should be able to guide you through the myriad of legalities and if nothing else, point you in the right direction.
Good luck.
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zipplewrath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:58 AM
Response to Original message
8. Generally don't have to
Generally, you don't have to "severe" ties with parents since they have no direct authority over you at all. However, you have focused on the few areas they could continue to be a pain. Get a health care surrogate. Get it all written down and specifically state in it that this person has authority to deny your parents (and anyone else if you so choose) access to you on your behalf.

On the Grandparents thang, you have a few more options. The most extreme would be to somehow "bring charges" on them. I'm dubious you could successfully pursue such a case. You could try a civil action, but again I'm not sure of the potential success. However, it might aid you in a larger effort. You could get a permanent restraining order against them. (By the way this is an EXTREMELY hostile action so think hard about it first). The primary focus of course would be to obtain it not only on behalf of yourself, but on behalf of the kids in a protective sense. (A good lawyer could establish the potential for cross generational threat from the father). It will only last probably until the kids are actually 18, but they'll be able to decide for themselves by then.

I'm dubious though that this will be particularly necessary. Yes, technically they can force their way in. But functionally, THEY'LL have to pursue it legally, and you have a few "arrows" in the ole quiver that might get THEIR lawyer to tell them to drop the whole thang.
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_TJ_ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 09:59 AM
Response to Original message
9. That is such a tragic story
It really is very painful to read. I'm surprised you haven't
prosecuted your step-father, but perhaps you just want to
put the past behind you.

I hope you can figure this all out.

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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:02 AM
Response to Original message
11. You need to legally designate someone ELSE with durable power
of attorney.

You might as well include some statement about wanting your adoptive parents to NOT have a say.

Do you have someone you can entrust with power of attorney?
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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #11
16. I trust my husband with power of attorney...
I agree that something formally written about not wanting my adoptive parents to have any say--would be optimal.

Maybe I need to think about writing the abuse story out in some kind of document.

I don't want to formally press charges. I don't believe that I could win such a case. It would be my word against my father's.

I have been told that a person can formally file a complaint with Social Services. The complaint is confidential, but it does hold weight if other children come forward and allege abuse. I should probably look into this further.

Thanks for your comments.

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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. strangelove is right - you really need legal advice for your state
though I can't help but think the more you document now the better off you are in the event it's needed.
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dr.strangelove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
12. Complicated legal issue - you should talk with an attorney in your state.
We DUers need to be very careful about giving out legal advice unless qualified to do so. These are very complicated legal issues. It is possible to severe parental rights of an adult (this is the term of art for what you wish to do), though it is frowned upon by most judges and is fairly expensive due to the time your attorney will need to spend on this matter. If you have had no legal training, it may be difficult for you to research and frame the issues without a lawyer. Like anything, it depends heavily on the state you live in. I find the lawyers with the most experience in these areas are those who work in the gay and lesbian community, where this issue presents itself often. What state are you in?
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amazona Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:06 AM
Response to Original message
14. It doesn't seem entirely possible
I know someone who tried it, actually in her case, it was an older woman trying to cut ties with a greedy child, and it seems that what you have to do is to never, ever contact them or have any communication with them over the years. Unfortunately, they just kept bugging on her, and if they keep in contact every two years -- they popped up way more than that -- then the relationship is still legal. This might be only Louisiana stuff. In the end, when she passed, the children that she wanted to cut the ties to...did end up inheriting everything despite her wishes. She talked about making a will to leave all to the church but I think the will conveniently disappeared as they do when the relatives are not properly rewarded financially.


In another example, I know someone who tried to distance himself from his parents after they looted his bank accounts and indeed in revenge his parents hired an attorney to dis-own him...but again...it didn't "take" in the end because there was contact a few years after the paperwork was completed. He's OK with his folks now because they have acquired their own money so whatever.

I would say based on the experiences of those I've known to try this, your only hope is to re-locate to a foreign country and even then the parents or child in question will probably track you down. At least they will if any money is involved.


The conservation movement is a breeding ground of communists
and other subversives. We intend to clean them out,
even if it means rounding up every birdwatcher in the country.
--John Mitchell, US Attorney General 1969-72


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radwriter0555 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:08 AM
Response to Original message
15. Seems like a lot of work to go through when you can literally just walk
away; that's what I did. And I moved far, far away. I moved to California to get away from my family in NY. Trust me, they haven't gotten on any planes to visit me.

Draw up the standard documents and include a specific clause that says your parents aren't to have any legal ability to make any decisions about you OR YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS and designate who IS. Then have it witnessed and notarized.

And then, just ignore your parents letters and telephone calls and be unavailable for visits. They get tired of trying after a while.

Moving far away on the pretext of a job is an excellent way to just get rid of them, too. The world is your oyster.
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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #15
18. I agree that walking away may be enough...
..and most of the time I don't feel the need to do anything else.

However, sometimes I am concerned--especially when it comes to matters involving my children.

I'm happy to hear that you successfully severed ties and moved away.

I loved your sentiment "the world is your oyster." It's so true.

It took me a long time to break from my parents, but once I did--it felt like the universe opened up to greet me for the first time.

I wish my siblings could know the same freedom. They're so traumatized, they're practically paralyzed.

Congrats your making the world your oyster. :)
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radwriter0555 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. Well, perhaps if your sibs observe your success and happiness --
and it will come in spades as time goes on -- they will have the courage to have that 'parentectomy' as well. Like you, I felt soooooo relieved when I finally severed all ties. My female parent kept hounding me for almost a decade, with letters and gifts to my child. I simply threw them all out and made sure my daughter never knew of the persistence. She really knew how to push my buttons, but I realized that simply not responding to ANYTHING in ANY way was the only way to deal with that psychotic raving lunatic bitch. Best thing I ever didn't do...

Being 3000 miles away helped a lot, but now, with that whole oyster thing, we're moving to France, thereby sealing my commitment to never engage those people again.

It was also important that my child never have contact with my parents... that was my primary motivation for severing contact. The protection of our children is what will break the cycle of abuse as you well know, and is the best thing we can do for our kids.

Just walk away, and put your specific wishes for who is to care for you and your children in writing in multiple copies in safe places.

Then just forget about it, and live your life.

Cheers!!!!!
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