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Robert, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1412
Experience:  I am a licensed Attorney.
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I am 16 years old and live with my parents and younger siblings.

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I am 16 years old and live with my parents and younger siblings. My dad is a Mormon. He is Very! strict!!!! I do not want to be a mormon. I want to be something else. Do I have the legal right to change my religion? Most of my siblings are. Only my brother is still mormon.
Parents are generally recognized with the right to raise their children as they see fit. This means that your father can encourage a particular religion and attending religious services.

However, the First Amendment secures the free exercise of religion as far as the government is concerned and the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of religion.

Unfortunately, if your father wants to encourage your participation in the Mormon church, even against your will, then he will be able to do so legally until you reach the age of majority (legal adulthood), which is 18 in Virginia.

The best thing you can do at this point is simply try having an honest conversation with your father (if that is a possibility; I understand some people already have their minds made up one way or another) and discuss your concerns and why you believe differently. It would seem unlikely that he would want you to participate if you were not interested.

Either way, he will have little to no say in the matter once you reach the age of 18. Until then, your best option would be to have a very honest discussion with him about the subject.

I hope this has helped. Please let me know if you need me to further clarify. Thank you and good luck!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This tells me nothing that I didn't already know. I mean, what about declaring myself an independent? What if his church is abusive? My little brother was forced to kill a chicken by the mormon bishop and another guy; it wasn't a hunting trip or wilderness survival; they were forcing him. He said he couldn't tell them NO! because it would make our dad angry. I am forced to do things I don't want to do! Do you know we baptize dead people in the mormon temple? I have to be their proxy. I hate this! I want out!

I understand and I will continue to help you until you are satisfied. Please understand that I cannot possibly know what you know and don't know unless you tell me. Please let me know if you need further clarification, rather than leaving a negative rating, and I will be glad to continue to help.

In order to obtain your rights as an adult early (known as emancipation), you need to file a petition for emancipation with your local Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court where you live.

However, before a court can enter an order emancipating a minor, it must find one of the following:

(1)the minor entered into a valid marriage, whether or not that marriage has been terminated by dissolution;

(2) the minor is on active duty in the armed forces of the United States of America; or

(3) the minor willingly lives separate and apart from his parents or guardian, with the consent and acquiescence of the parents or guardian, and that the minor is or is capable of supporting himself and competently managing his own financial affairs.

Basically, if you are willing to live separate and apart from your father and support yourself then you will be able to become emancipated and will no longer be under the control/influence/support of your father.

Additionally, a court of proper jurisdiction can emancipate a minor pursuant to Article 15 of Title 16.1 of the Code of Virginia. This may be your best chance to become emancipated.

You may also be interested in the following link that discusses emancipation:

Because of your situation, you should contact the Virginia Attorney General to ask about assistance with emancipation and you can contact that office with the contact information contained within the following link:

If you believe you are being subjected to abuse (either mentally or physically) and are being forced to do things that are traumatizing to you then you should contact the Virginia Department of Social Services and they will be able to assist you. You can contact this department with the contact information contained within the following link:

If you have an adult friend that can file with you for a protective order protecting you from certain religious activities that are damaging to you then that is also an option. If you have an adult friend that will help you in this regard, or if you seek to become emancipated, then the two of you should make an appointment with a local Family Law Attorney.

If you choose to take any legal action (whether for emancipation or for a protective order) then you can use the following link to select your area in Virginia and it will display contact information for such Attorneys:

I hope this has helped. Please remember to rate my answer positively if I have been helpful. Thank you and I wish you all the best!
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