When we came up with the idea to cover famous children who were emancipated from their parents, none of us had any clue just how often child actors and actresses legally separate from their guardians.
Apparently it happens a lot. California’s child labor laws are unique in that they allow kids to work, but only a couple hours a day. To get around these “noble” protections, Hollywood families often enlist the help of family lawyers to file paperwork for children to be recognized as adults so they can work a full day.
Since most of our readers couldn’t care less if Sunset Boulevard were overrun with over-worked eleven-year-olds, let’s stick to the emancipations that weren’t about convenience. What about those that pit children against their guardians in courtroom showdowns?
Macaulay Culkin stars in a real-life Home Alone
Possibly the most recognizable child actor of the ’90s, it’s no wonder Macaulay Culkin is also the best example of how emancipation of minors works in Hollywood. He was 14 when his parents filed for divorce, and what should’ve been an amicable split turned into a nasty legal battle over who would control Macaulay’s nearly $50 million fortune.
After his “retirement” from acting at 16, Macaulay filed for legal independence from his parents and reclaimed control of his wealth.
Over the past 20 years he has wisely spent his money promoting his comedy rock band, Pizza Underground, which parodies Velvet Underground songs with lyrics about pizza.
It’s going…...exactly how you’d expect.
This E.T. star moved into her own LA apartment when she was 14
Drew Barrymore successfully split from her mother on account of the truly terrible influence Mrs. Barrymore had on the child star. For those who don’t remember, Drew’s mother famously brought her daughter to Studio 54 so often that the not-so-innocent 9-year-old was considered a regular.
Thanks to her maternal role model, Drew learned as much about partying in her 14 short years of life as Keith Richards has in his 73. She was smoking cigarettes by 9, drinking alcohol by 11, smoking marijuana by 12, and snorting cocaine by 13.
A judge granted her emancipation request and she was taken in by David Crosby and his wife, who publicly criticized Drew’s mother for how she raised her child. And when the guy who served time in a Texas prison for heroin use is a better role model than your own mother, you know it’s serious.
Courtney Love’s house smells like Dexedrine and spirits
Kurt Cobain’s wife and his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, both left the care of their parents at a young age -- and that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Although Courtney was emancipated after run-ins with law enforcement and an inability to cooperate with foster care, Frances left her mother to live with more...loving grandparents.
It all started when Frances filed a restraining order against her mother after a physical altercation. After that, losing her dog to Courtney’s drug-infested carpet, and the disappearance of her cat amongst the piles of garbage Courtney refused to throw out -- Bean’s case for a change in physical custody was pretty much in the bag as soon as the papers were filed.
Coincidentally, so was Courtney.
Two unrelated hunks who lived like brothers
All healthy examples of Hollywood parenting begin outside of Tinseltown, and what better place to look for wholesome family relations than our northern neighbors. Most of us remember Canadian tween Ryan Gosling as a Mouseketeer who shared the stage with up-and-comers like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Baby Goose’s childhood best friend -- Justin Timberlake.
It wasn’t money, drugs, or canicide that split the Gosling family apart though, it was the 40-hour work week. With a tearful bye bye bye, Mrs. Gosling moonwalked back to work in her home country and left Ryan in the legal care of the Timberlake family.
So next time you karaoke ‘Nsync, don’t forget to give a shout-out to the childhood emancipation that inspired Justin’s loquacious lyrics.
If your tween is making millions of dollars, using cocaine, sick of being harassed by you, and/or looking to become an international celebrity, Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams can help...them request emancipation?...Or help you dispute their case?
We’re not really sure. We don’t see a lot of child stars in Renton, so this is actually new territory for us.
But we’ve worked on regular-Joe third-party custody disputes and child emancipation cases. Those are easy.