16 Celebrities Who Sued Their Parents & Won (PHOTOS)

16 Celebrities Who Sued Their Parents & Won (PHOTOS)

Parents are supposed to care for, support, and protect their kids, but some celebrity parents do the opposite: They exploit, steal money, and abuse their celebrity spawn.

Here are 16 celebrities who fought back by suing their parents, whether they were fighting to recoup stolen millions or to just gain freedom from abusive and neglectful moms and dads.  


Image via © London Entertainment/Splash News/Corbis

  • Drew Barrymore


    Image © PictureLux/Splash News/Corbis

    Her mom took her clubbing as a kid, and, as she wrote in her autobiography Little Girl Lost, Drew Barrymore smoked, drank, and snorted cocaine before she even hit her teens. It's no wonder she successfully sued for emancipation from her hard-partying parents when the former child actress decided to change her life at age 15.

  • Macaulay Culkin


    Image ©2005 Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis

    He was one of the most adored — and successful — child actors ever, making $17 million from the Home Alone movies. His divorced parents battled each other for custody — and control of the money. Culkin sued to remove both, and a judge appointed an accountant to manage the money until Culkin turned 18.

  • Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino


    Image © Sioux Nesi/Splash News/Corbis

    Classy. Jersey Shore star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino sued his father for $75,000 in damages in 2011 for using his name and likeness to make money via a series of videos on his website in which he made disparaging claims about his son. The two later mended fences and The Situation dropped the lawsuit.

  • Leighton Meester


    Image © Xavier Collin/Celebrity Monitor/Splash News/Corbis

    Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester sued her mom in 2011 for misspending a monthly $7,500 stipend meant to cover her brother's medical expenses, claiming it was instead spent on cosmetic procedures among other personal expenses. The kicker: Meester said her mom threatened to sue for $3 million if Meester didn't raise the stipend. The judge handed Meester a victory.

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  • Mischa Barton


    Image © Splash News/Splash News/Corbis

    Former O.C. star Mischa Barton sued her mom recently, accusing her of stealing money to buy a $7.8 million house. The lawsuit also alleges that her mom started a fashion boutique and handbag line using Barton's name.  Barton's lawyer called her mother a "greedy stage mom ... who positioned herself to siphon her daughter's hard-earned money."

  • LeAnn Rimes


    Image © Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/Corbis

    Country star LeAnn Rimes was just a teenager when she launched her singing career, and during that time, her father and manager stole $7 million of her earnings, she alleged in a 1998 lawsuit. Rimes and her mom, who was divorced, settled out of court for an unspecified amount.

  • Aaron Carter


    Image © Britta Pedersen/dpa/Corbis

    In 2003, Aaron Carter sued his mother, claiming she stole $100,000 and some memorabilia and also kept his father from attending his concerts. 

  • Jena Malone


    Image © Xavier Collin/Image Press/Splash/Splash News/Corbis

    She'd been living on her own, off and on, for years, and at age 14, actress Jena Malone (The Hunger Games) sued to make it official, seeking legal emancipation from her mother. She also sued her mom for misspending $1 million of her earnings. She says she has since repaired her relationship with her mother. 

    More from The Stir: 10 Biggest Celebrity Family Feuds (PHOTOS)

  • Corey Feldman


    Image © Toby Canham/Splash News/Corbis

    He was an '80s child star who grew up to find out that his parents had spent most of the money he earned as a child. So at 15, he successfully sued to be emancipated from his parents and gain control of his own money. The sick twist, according to Feldman: His father wouldn't sign emancipation papers until the actor paid him off — with the last $40,000 he had left.

  • Dominique Moceanu


    Image © Mike King/CORBIS

    At 14, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the gold-medal winning U.S. women's gymnastics team in the 1996 Atlanta Games. Endorsements and money followed, but Moceanu saw none of it. Her father managed her earnings, much of which he sank into a gym, though he had no management experience. At 17, she successfully sued for emancipation, and learned that most of the $1 million she'd earned was gone. 

  • Ariel Winter


    Image © London Entertainment/Splash News/Corbis

    After a three-year court battle that began in 2012, Modern Family star Ariel Winter was finally granted legal emancipation from her mother. A judge removed the TV star from her home following allegations of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her mother. 

  • Chris Warren


    Image © ©2008 NCNA PHOTO/RameyPix/Corbis

    It seems a common refrain: Child actor turns 18 and ... finds out some, if not all, of his earnings as a minor are gone. That's what happened to Chris Warren. The High School Musical actor sued his parents (mom is Brook Kerr of Passions) for tapping into a trust fund they'd set up for him, without his knowledge. A judge ordered the couple to pay back $337,000 in 2013.

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  • Kobe Bryant


    Image © Imaginechina/Corbis

    Here's a rarity: Kobe Bryant's parents issued a written public apology for trying to sell basically any of their son's memorabilia that wasn't nailed to the floor. Bryant's mom put the items up for auction and took a $450,000 advance to buy a house. Bryant successfully sued to allow the sale of less than 10 percent of the original items to an auction house.  

  • Billy Unger


    Image © Splash News/Splash News/Corbis

    The Lab Rats star sued his father for breach of contract, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation, among other charges. Billy Unger says his father, who was his talent and business manager, used his money to pay for a girlfriend's rent and for a life insurance policy on Billy, with himself listed as the sole beneficiary. He also took a 33 percent cut of Billy's earnings.

  • Gary Coleman


    Image ©2005 Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis

    The former Diff'rent Strokes actor sued his parents and then-business manager for misspending an $18 million fortune. After legal wrangling, a court awarded Gary Coleman just $1.3 million, which quickly evaporated, forcing him to file for bankruptcy in 1999.

  • Jackie Coogan


    Image © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

    He was one of the first child actors in film history (Charlie Chaplin's The Kid)Jackie Coogan made an estimated $4 million, most of which his mother and stepfather spent. Coogan sued and won $126,000 after legal fees, then fell on hard times. The infamous case resulted in the Coogan Law, which requires employers to set aside 15 percent of a child actor's earnings in a trust.  

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