20 Celebrities Who Divorced Their Parents

Taylor Momsen

Cases of celebrities divorcing their parents are not news. Every superstar’s emancipation is unique regardless of the circumstances befalling their situation. Various reasons may necessitate one to divorce their parents, such as the need to be financially independent, parental abuse or negligence, labor laws, among others. Whatever the reason, this is drastic action to take.

But why are the cases of emancipation common in child stars? Could it be that most parents tend to take advantage of them due to their young age? Or is it for the good of their career? Keep in mind that not all emancipation cases result from disagreements. Some occur in mutual agreement between the parent and the child.

Such are cases where the minor wishes to avoid child labor laws that restrict them from working more than eight hours a day. However, the plaintiff must be financially sufficient for the emancipation request to be considered legally binding. That’s why most celebrity emancipation cases turn successful since they can raise money for their upkeep.

However, the law on emancipation varies in different states. Like in some states, a petition from the family court is required before declaring that a child can divorce the parents, while other states fully support children who want to get divorced from their parents by offering free legal aid to the minors. Here’s are 20 celebrities who divorced their parents.

1. Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore was born in an acting dynasty. She started her career in a dog food commercial at one-year-old. Although Drew is recognized for her iconic role in Spielberg’s E.T, she grew up as a child star and earned dozens of acting and producing credits. Drew began to develop a rebellious attitude towards her parents at a young age. At nine years old, she was smoking and upgraded to drinking and taking cocaine at 11 and 13 years, respectively. After rehabilitation, at 15 years old, with full support from her mother, Drew emancipated herself from her parents.

2. Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay Culkin started acting at the age of four and became one of the top child celebrities of the 90s. This born 1980 celebrity is well known for starring in ‘The Home Alone’ series as Kelvin McCallister in 1990-1992. In 1991, he perked up his acting career by starring in ‘The My Girl film.’ Macaulay has also played a lead role in other films, like ‘The Richie Rich,’ ‘The Good Son,’ ‘The Pagemaster,’ ‘The Nutcracker,’ to mention a few., Culkins’ parents divorced when he was 14 years old. However, they started fighting over his $17 million. At 16 years old, he filed a case to divorce them for mismanaging his income. He won the case and managed to get all his acting earnings from his parents.

3. Ariel Winter

Ariel Winter is one of the current Hollywood celebrities. She is known for her starring position on the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family. Winter filed for emancipation from her parents at the age of 16, claiming that her mother physically and emotionally abused her. Upon emancipation from her mother, she was first placed at Chiroula Workmans’ home, and later on, put in the custody of her elder sister.

4. Juliette Lewis

Juliette Lewis divorced her parents at the age of fourteen due to unclear reasons. Nevertheless, her parents supported her decision to file for emancipation. Before living independently, Juliette stayed with Karen Black, a family friend. But several incidents befell after she moved into her apartment and before her appearance in the wonder years. Juliette was a high school dropout who was into drugs and owned a car without a valid license.

5. Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams became a celebrity at the age of 17 after being part of a group of actors and actresses on the hit teen drama Dawson’s Creek. She divorced her parents to avoid labor laws that restricted her from working longer hours. However, her parents didn’t object to her decision as it would help her concentrate on her career fully. Besides, the casting directors would be inclined to hire her after she’s emancipated from her parents, meaning she would work full-time.

6. Jena Malone

Jean Malone had been active in the entertainment industry from the age of 12; Acting as Eliie in ‘Contact’ and Anna Harrison in ‘Stepmom’ put Jena into the limelight. She divorced her parents at the age of 15, claiming that she wanted to have complete control of her life.

7. Jaime Pressly

Jaime Pressly, an ambitious actress, petitioned for emancipation to circumvent child labor restrictions. At 15 years, her request was granted, allowing her to take a modeling job in Japan and study out of school. As a result, Jaime could travel and build her career independently, without a legal guardian.

8. Alicia Silverstone

Alicia Silverstone divorcing her parents was purely out of goodwill. She appeared in the thriller film ‘the crush,’ where she played the crazed and psychotic teen stalking her older crush. The shooting schedule required her to work for longer hours. At 15 years old, she divorced her parents to get around with the labor laws. Her parents agreed to her request to allow their daughter to focus more on her career.

9. Eliza Dushku

Eliza Dushku was cast in movies with big Hollywood stars such as Robert De Niro and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movies that saw her rise to fame were ‘this boy’s life’ and ‘true lies.’Eliza has appeared in several tv series, including ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ This film required her to work for long hours, which was impossible since she was still under her parent’s care. At the age of 17, Eliza decided to divorce her parents to help keep up with the demands of her career and have enough time to film for her role.

10. Aaron Carter

Aaron Carter, a celebrity of many faces, joined the entertainment industry at the age of 7 as an actor, and at nine, he had released his first album. He is an actor, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and rapper. When Aaron Carter was 16 years old, he filed a petition to divorce his mother, alleging she had withdrawn his $100,000 behind his back. Though his request was granted, Aaron decided to withdraw the petition and reconcile with his mother.

11. Courtney Love

Courtney Michele did not have a good upbringing. She had an extremely orthodox and unruly upbringing. After her parents divorced, Courtney’s mother left her stepfather and moved to New Zealand. Courtney was just eight years old. She started developing rebellious behavior and was taken to a juvenile correction at 14 after being arrested for shoplifting. Courtney divorced her parents at 16 and traveled around the world living under the financial support of her mother’s foster parent. At 19, Courtney got a job at the Paramount Studios but returned to Portland to build her career.

12. Corey Feldman

Corey Feldman started as a child star acting in films such as ‘Goonies’ and ‘Stand by Me.’ Corey divorced his parents at the age of 15, alleging they mismanaged his career and finances. In addition, Corey made several accusations against his mother, stating that the mother was addicted to drugs and abusive. He also claimed she had a mental health condition which made his life very difficult.

13. Taylor Momsen

Taylor Momsen, the Gossip Girl star, was emancipated at the age of 16. She was also a lead singer in the pretty Reckless rock band. Taylor filed a petition to divorce her parents, who had signed her up for a modeling job at the age of 2. According to Taylor, she didn’t have a real-life. However, her then career demanded emancipation.

14. Laura Dern

Laura Dern came from a famous acting family. She decided to divorce her parents out of goodwill. Laura wanted to focus on her acting career, which demanded long working hours, and the only way to get around child laws was emancipation. She had her parents’ support, and they’ve been in a good relationship even after she was emancipated.

15. Natasha Henstridge

Natasha Henstridge gained fame after starring in the science fiction movie ‘Species’ where she played the killer alien seductress. She filed for emancipation to avoid labor laws restricting her from pursuing her modeling career in Paris. Her decision to divorce her parents paid off; she a film and T.V. star.

16. Rose McGowan

Rose is a well-known celebrity but had a troublesome childhood. But does it have a connection with her being emancipated? Her mother’s boyfriend claimed that Rose was doing drugs during her teens due to her all-black dressing style. Rose was taken to rehab, but she denied the allegations. Later on, she divorced her parents and moved in with her aunt, where she focused more on her acting career.

17. Bijou Phillips

Bijou Phillips was emancipated at the age of 13. This move paved the way for her to follow in her mother’s and father’s footsteps. She was the daughter of mama’s and papa’s lead singer, John Philips, and South African Model Genevieve Waite. However, after divorcing her parents, Bijou started engaging in drugs but joined rehab after losing her friend to heroin overdose.

18. Dominique Moceanu

Dominique Moceanu divorced her parents at the age of 17. She was the youngest member of the U.S. gymnastics team in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Her engagement in the Olympics was the stepping stone to fame. Dominique sued her parents for she sought answers about her Olympics earnings. She later reconciled with her parents even after emancipating for a while.

19. Frances Bean Cobain

Frances Bean Cobain requested a restraining order against her mother, Courtney Love, at the age of 17. Her mother owed her $2.75 million that she had borrowed from Frances trust funds without her consent. Frances then moved in with her aunt and grandmother, who continued to look after her.

20. Tiffany

Tiffany was a famous musician back in the ’80s. She decided to divorce her parents following disagreements on who will manage her career and earnings. Tiffany couldn’t figure out if to let the manager take up the role or leave it to her parents. However, the court declined her request. She then left her parents’ house to live with her grandmother, who became her provisional guardian.

Reasons Why Celebrities Divorce Their Parents

Celebrities are often thrown into the spotlight from an early age and put under nannies or agents’ care while their parents focus on their careers. For some, the pressure to live up to their parents’ expectations is enormous, while others grow bored of their parents’ presence. So they decide it’s better to focus on building their career.

Hence they request emancipation. Celebrity children often discover that they don’t have time for their parents. The demands of fame and having a family just aren’t fully compatible with each other. The paparazzi follow celebrities around during much of the day while at work or away from home. It’s simply impossible to shield your children from the scrutiny that comes along with being famous.

Although celebrities have a very different childhood than regular families, they still deserve relationships with their parents. However, it may not be easy for them to find time to be together with their families. They have stringent work commitments that demand most of their time which may be a challenge unless they are emancipated. It’s no secret that you’re going to have money and fame thrown at you at every turn. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of these factors. It sounds like this is the case with the son of a famous musician who sued his parents for mismanaging his finances.


Circumstances have forced many minors to divorce their parents out of goodwill to pursue the careers that require them to have adult status. Others have divorced their parents because of abuse and parents trying to take advantage of them by using their funds without consent. The celebrities discussed were forced to divorce their parents for the mentioned reasons. However, some cases show that a child divorcing their parents at such an early age is not appropriate since they are likely to make poor decisions in life due to a lack of guidance.

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