If my son’s girlfriend recently turned 18 and due to differences with her parents left her home, can they keep her legal papers from her?

UPDATED: Oct 7, 2014

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If my son’s girlfriend recently turned 18 and due to differences with her parents left her home, can they keep her legal papers from her?

Her parents are currently not allowing her to obtain her Social Security card, her permanent residence card (she was adopted from Russia at the age of 6) or her birth certificate. Without these papers, she is unable to try to get a job and start her life. Are they legally allowed to do that. They are claiming they “lost” her paperwork but the truth is that they are holding it out of spite. Can she contact local authorities and have someone make her parents give her her paperwork?

Asked on October 7, 2014 under Business Law, Delaware


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

As a practical matter, there is no way to compel the parents to give her this paperwork, if they are prepared to maintain the claim that the paperwork was lost. (That is, even if a court were to order them to turn it over, a defense to a court order is impossibility--i.e. they could not turn it over if it were lost. Since there is no independent way for the court to confirm whether the papers were or were not lost, such an order is essentially unenforceable if the parents will steadfastly maintain that the paperwork is gone.) Your son's girlfriend should contact the relevant state and federal agencies and look to obtain copies of the paperwork, the same as would any person who lost it.

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