Family relationships are always complicated, but when they become toxic or abusive, then it may be necessary to sever ties with the offending party. This can be done formally or informally, depending upon the situation.
Federal and state laws in the U.S. do not define the term “disown.” Accordingly, you won’t find a statute under which you can sever all ties with a relative. This doesn’t mean that you cannot discontinue a relationship or prevent a certain individual from benefitting from your assets upon your death.
The informal approach to disowning a relative involves cutting off communication and taking steps to ensure that you will no longer see them. If you’re living with the relative, then it is advisable to move as soon as possible. Forego all verbal, written and electronic forms of communication after sending the relative a letter regarding your intent to disown them. Use certified mail to send the letter so that you have proof that it was delivered. Should your relative become violent or begin harassing you, then the letter may be part of the evidence you can use to take formal steps to sever ties.
Informally disowning a relative works fairly well as long as everyone involved is an adult. However, sometimes minors want to disown their parents or other guardians because of violence, abuse or other toxic behaviors. In these cases, the minor must pursue emancipation. The advice of legal counsel is required as certain documents must be filed and court hearings are inevitable. The age at which minors can pursue emancipation varies between states, so the guidance of a lawyer is indispensable.
In the event of violent or otherwise abusive relationships, it is necessary to seek a restraining order. Such an order forbids any type of contact between you and the subject of the order. If your relative attempts to contact you, then legal consequences follow. This may provide enormous peace of mind.
If you fear that a toxic relative will be able to benefit from your estate or gain custody of your minor children should you die or become incapacitated, then you may need to take other steps. Drawing up a legal will is perhaps the most critical thing you can do. It is not necessary to have significant assets to have a will. You can use the document simply to let people know how you want your worldly goods to be distributed after your passing.
Wills are especially crucial if you have minor children and you want to ensure that certain people will not be able to gain control over them. Be as specific as you can regarding who should have custody of your children, and discuss the arrangements with this individual in advance. This ensures that they are willing to accept the responsibility and minimizes the options for others who might seek custody.
Family relationships are not always as positive and rewarding as they should be. Use these tips to disown a relative with whom you have a toxic relationship.