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emancipation of a minor

From: concerned friend
Date: 08 Mar 2003
Time: 13:03:07
Remote Name:


Are minor children just "stuck" with a parent no matter how abusive that parent is emotionally? I have been trying to find answers without actually hiring a lawyer. At what age can a minor child have himself emancipated? This is a case where a minor child hotlined his father (having a adult actually place the call) for neglect and abuse. Sufficient evidence was found to remove him from the home and place him in foster care for several months. However, the father hired a lawyer and (incredibily) regained custody of his son even though the son begged the judge not to send him back. It took almost a year. Without going into all the sordid details, the boy's parents were divorced, and the boy was living with his father (legal custody). The boy's mother was murdered a few years later, and the young boy was emotionally devastated. The father was happy about it, believing that one of his "problems" had been solved for him. The boy's major complaints about his father include catching his father masturbating in various rooms of their home, seeing his father naked, seeing his father viewing pornography on the Internet (suspected child porn - the boy's comment as he told concerned adults about this was "I know those girls weren't 18!"), little or no food kept in the home; dirty, unkept house (dog feces was found on the floor when the home investigation was conducted); lack of regular medical care for non-life threatening conditions; and a pervasive emotionally negative environment. Since the court battle, the father has "cleaned up his act" somewhat, but even now the boy "hears" his father masturbating - (evidently he's quite noisy when he obtains satisfaction.....) In addition, the boy says that his father regularly blames him for all his financial problems and his recent divorce. When the boy was initially removed from the home, the father had to undergo a court-ordered psychological evaluation. A Major Personality Disorder was diagnonsed - a serious disorder which renders the father incapable of assuming responsibility for any of his own actions. (e.g., it's ALWAYS someone else's fault....). Incredibly, the presence of a serious mental illness didn't matter. Right now this child is just biding his time and waiting for the day when he can leave. Dad does just enough to keep himself out of trouble, but not enough to provide the kind of warm, nurturing environment necessary to promote emotional/psychological health in his son. The father claims to "love" his son, yet won't listen to him or take any of the son's concerns seriously -- telling him he "just doesn't understand," or "never will understand." Add to all this being forced to go to church where the boy is regulary convinced that he is going to "Hell" for the way he feels about his father. From the boy's perspective, there is no "relationship." He hates his father, has no respect for him whatsoever, refuses any expressions of love (offered hugs, etc. from the dad), and feels utterly alone. He feels that the court system has let him down and "doesn't care" what he has to endure emotionally, or what happens to him. He feels victimized, and that he has no rights whatsoever. Somehow the father convinced the "powers that be" that his son was "lying about everything" and in fact that he had been "brainwashed by comunists" get the picture. The very frustrating thing is that no one seems to care, or at least if they do, their hands are "tied." Emotional/psychological abuse is difficult to prove especially when it is between a teenager and a father and there are no witnesses.....but it is real just the same. Does this poor child have any hope at all except WAITING for the day he turns 17? His current enviornment CAN'T be "good for him." Where can he turn for help when the local agencies and authorities have let him down so miserably? DO children have any rights against parents? It seems ironic to me that if his mother were still alive, he would at least have a choice of parents to live with. But since she is dead, and he is still a minor, does that mean he's just stuck if no other relatives want to "take dad on" in court? How can a child be expected to have the ego strength to fight such a lonely battle? Is there ANYONE out there who gives a rip? There are plenty of non-relatives who love this kid and would be willing to take him in, but this is a battle he will have to fight for himself. No one wants to deal with a mentally ill parent. No one is quite sure what he would do, or how far he would go to "hang on" to what he thinks is his.

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