Well, Congress, in all their infinite wisdom, is lessing the choke hold on some "dependent students". If the student can prove estrangement...s/he may be eligible to be declared independent for 2009-2010.
To the OP...I see where you are coming from: I have many adult students who make considerably more income than their parents, have been living on their own since 18 but are still dependent...it doesn't seem fair.
HOWEVER....what thumper said is VERY VERY true...a lot of families were abusing the old rules. Parents with LARGE incomes started "kicking out" their children....just so the child could reap all the free money they could get. Kids were driving up to our office in EXPENSIVE cars and designer clothing claiming they were living on their own (with only $3k in verifiable income) and needed a dependency override...and we had no choice. So these kids were able to take advantage of Pell, SEOG, Work Study, etc.....and when they still found themselves $10k, their "estranged parents" sat at the Counselor's desk and wrote the school a check for $10k. Now that seems extremely unfair!!