Friday, January 02, 2015

The Nuclear Option

Or an alternate title “When parents don’t understand.” What are the child’s options when they come out to unreceptive parents?

There are more than you might imagine, an LGBT child doesn’t have to wait until they are 18 but all the options are not easy. The tragic story of the girl that committed suicide didn’t have to end that way, parents can be overridden in certain cases.

The first option is to grin and bear it, stick it out until they are eighteen. The other options involve interventions by family memembers or a social worker from a state agency and maybe the court system. Some states are now looking at parents who do not let their child transition as a form of child abuse and the courts can mandate the parents to let their child transition. This includes “Reparative Therapy” if the parents are forcing a child to have reparative therapy to make them “straight” the state mat step in to stop it even though it might not be banned by state law, it still might be considered child abuse or neglect.

If the parents throw the son or daughter out of the house before they are eighteen they are still responsible for the care of their child until eighteen and they maybe forced by the courts to pay childcare.

The child could also go to a mediator such as a social worker, a guidance counselor  or a state agency to talk to the parents. Another option if for the child to move into with a supportive relative, the courts have been known to give custody of LGBT children to an aunt or an uncle.

Then there is the “Nuclear Option,” emancipation. A child can petition to courts to be free of their parents. This means that the parents are not responsible for their child anymore, all legal ties are cut. The parents are no longer responsible for providing financial support; the child is on their own. That is why emancipation is a “Nuclear Option,” there is no going back and it is a very drastic step.

Here is what I found out about emancipation on the internet…
From the Nolo website,
What Emancipated Minors Can and Cannot DoEssentially, an emancipated minor functions as an adult in society. Although specific rights vary somewhat from state to state, usually an emancipated minor can:
  • enter into legally binding contracts, including real estate purchases or apartment rentals
  • enroll in the school of his or her choice
  • sue or be sued in court
  • apply for a work permit and keep any income earned from a job, and
  • make healthcare decisions, including choices related to abortion and birth control.
  • Most states place some limits on what an emancipated minor can do. For example, many states don't allow emancipated minors to:
  • get married without parental consent
  • quit school
  • buy or drink alcohol, or
  • vote or get a driver's license (before the legal age at which they would ordinarily be able to do so).
The website list alternatives to emancipation,
Emancipation is just one option in these situations. Other avenues to explore include:
  • getting help from government or private agencies
  • getting counseling for yourself or your family
  • using a mediator to discuss and resolve differences with your parents
  • living with another responsible adult, or
  • living on your own with the informal consent of your parents.
In Connecticut you must be at least 16 to petition for emancipation, according to CTLawHelp
What rights does an emancipated teenager have?
When you become emancipated, you have legal rights that other teenagers do not have. You also have new responsibilities that most teenagers do not have to worry about. You should weigh these rights and responsibilities carefully as you think about emancipation.

If you are emancipated:
  • You may get your own place to live--but you will be responsible for paying the rent and any other costs.
  • You may get medical care without your parents' permission--but you will have to pay the bills or arrange for financial help in paying them.
  • You can sign contracts in your own name and are responsible for living up to the contract.
  • You can sue other people, and you can also be sued by others.
  • You are no longer under the control of your parents -- but they will also have no obligation to support you financially, or give you any food, clothing, or shelter. The State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families will no longer be responsible for helping you if you are abused or neglected. You are, however, entitled to the same protection by the police as any other person, including the right to be protected from violence by a family or household member.
  • You may buy and sell property.
  • You may get a driver's license or marriage license or join the armed services without your parents' permission.
  • You may enroll in a school or college of your choice without asking your parents.
Notice that “You may get medical care without your parents' permission--but you will have to pay the bills or arrange for financial help in paying them.” and also that you wavier DCF help because you are now legally an adult.

One of the problems is that the LGBT child might not know of these options and might give up in despair, so if you know of a LGBT child whose parents are not supportive let the child know that there are things that can be done to help them transition.

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