this is a theoretical question I am asking to satisfy my curiosity; hopefully this will never need to be useful for somebody

Say a child is facing lots of abuse at home, or have parents who discriminate against them for being LGBTQ or is disabled. Could in theory, if the child had enough money and resources, sue their parents? Is there a country where this is legal?

I know CPS exists in places like the United States; this is purely a theoretical question

  • Your question can only be answered by one positive case or some 180 negative ones. So I don't try. But generally, a minor would either need the permission of a legal guardian to do that or someone who is entitled to act on behalf of the minor. CPS or the like, as you mentioned.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 16:38
  • I could point you to literal millions of cases where parents were sued by their kids, especially on nonpayment of alimony.
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


Minor children can, in theory, sue their parents, in many countries, as long as they can prove a cognizable harm. The simplest case is where a parent commits a crime against the child, such as rape; this would also include embezzlement. "Abuse" is a term used in laws, for example RCW 26.44.020 (Washington state), but that sense of "abuse" doesn't include e.g. "overbearing behavior" or "obnoxious politics".

If a child is disabled and the parents taunt the child for that disability, it is possible that the child could sue to terminate parental rights. The case is even clearer if the parent fails in their parental obligations to the child. Lgbtqia child rights are less well-defined. The background assumption is that the parent has the exclusive right to determine the child's upbringing, which includes things such as political beliefs, religion, and matters touching no family and sex. Norway is one of those countries with relatively few restrictions on "how you live your life", and they are considering a law against "conversion therapy", but there is presently no law prohibiting a parent from denouncing their child's lifestyle. It is possible that Barnevernet (child protective services) could intervene in a particular case, but they would not sue a parent on behalf of the child unless the parents actually violated the law.

  • 1
    A crime like rape would mean the minor is reporting the parent to the police and the prosecutor is then bringing a criminal case. "Sue somebody" tends to imply a civil case, as I understand the language use.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 16:40
  • 1
    Apart from criminal prosecution carried out by the state, the child also can sue for damages.
    – user6726
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 19:30
  • 2
    E.g. O.J. Simpson, for murder. I doubt that a not-guilty verdict immunizes you from civil liability in any jurisdiction, at least when guilt is determined by a higher standard than used for determining liability.
    – user6726
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 19:45
  • 2
    @o.m. The lawsuit would be for a parallel intentional tort, not for the crime itself. Also, I am not aware of jurisdictions where a child can sue for termination of parental rights, although there are some where a child can sue for emancipation, which is similar but not identical.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 20:45
  • 1
    @ohwilleke I have heard of a case where a minor sued for termination of parental rights so that his foster parents could adopt him.
    – Mary
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 22:03

Yes, children can sue their parents for certain civil causes of action, and indeed, usually, those claims would be tolled during periods of being under the age of majority when there is not guardian or conservator appointed for the child.

Historically, the context where this came up was a lot less ominous: Children suing a parent driving a vehicle in which the innocent child suffered injuries in order to trigger insurance coverage for the child to pay for the child's injuries. Modern car insurance policies usually draft around that possibility.

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