I heard that Miley Cyrus is divorcing her parents—is that true? I didn't know a kid could do such a thing.
First, let's dispense with the thundering denial that just came rolling down from Mount St. Miley:
The rumor that Hannah Montana is considering legal emancipation from her parents is, in the words of a Cyrus publicist responding to my inquiry, "completely false."
However, if Miley Cyrus did want legal sundering from Billy Ray and What's Her Name—essentially freeing herself from her parents and achieving an early adulthood—the teen sensation would be the latest in a long line of famous child performers to do so. In fact there are plenty of names you probably know very well ...
A teenage Drew Barrymore sued for legal freedom from mom Jaid in 1991. Other people who achieved emancipation as children include Courtney Love, Alicia Silverstone, Michelle Williams, Jaime Pressly and Rose McGowan.
But what does it mean? Simple. Means that in the eyes of family law, the kid has escaped all obligation to obey the parents, and vice versa. If an emancipated 16-year-old wanted to, say, date a 20-year-old underwear model, she could do that—without, say, her daddy threatening to take her webcam away as punishment.
Pressly explained her need for emancipation to Playboy like this: "I was in hormone hell, so going to Japan on a modeling contract seemed like a great escape. Neither of my parents could come with me, and in order to get out of school for that semester and go on my own without a legal guardian, the child labor laws said I needed to be an emancipated minor. ... It wasn't about my parents; it was about my wanting to get the hell out of Dodge."
Emancipated child actors also need not worry about parents mishandling their earnings or career choices—which is why many emancipations come at the suggestion of child agents and business managers.
Plus, emancipated kids can worm out of child labor laws and work longer hours, making themselves more attractive to casting agents. (That's the reported reason Williams successfully filed for emancipation at age 15.)
All that said, looks like Miley won't be joining Barrymore or Pressly as an emancipated person.
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