Law & Legal & Attorney Children Law

Laws on Emancipation

    • An emancipated teenager is considered an adult for legal purposes.teenager image by Alta.C from Fotolia.com

      Emancipation is a legal process by which a person under the age of 18 can gain the legal status of an adult. Parents of emancipated minors no longer have the legal right to make decisions for their children or govern their behavior; in the eyes of the law, the emancipated child is an adult. Emancipation laws differ from state to state; some states do not allow emancipation at all, others allow it only in certain circumstances and some allow it only with the consent of the parent.

    Reasons for Emancipation

    • To be emancipated, a minor may simply reach the age of majority (18 in most states), which would release him from his parents' control. In order to become an emancipated minor, however, the minor must enter adult life early via marriage, the military or other unusual circumstances. She can also petition the court for emancipation in cases of abuse or neglect. In some cases, the parent may agree to emancipation and file paperwork with the court.

    Procedure for Emancipation

    • The petitioner must file for emancipation with the county juvenile court. In some states, a parent, guardian or other adult must file a petition; in others, the minor himself may file. Once the petition is filed, the court sets a hearing date; at the hearing, the minor must present evidence for why emancipation is in his best interest. The court determines emancipation based on state law; in states that do not have emancipation statutes, the judge must rely on common law regarding parent-child relationships.

    Informal Emancipation

    • In some situations, minors may be informally emancipated without going to court. For example, a parent tells a child to move out because of behavioral problems or does not contest it when a child moves in with friends. These minors are not emancipated legally, so they may find it difficult to get welfare or other public assistance benefits.

    Consent of Parents

    • In many states, parents must consent to emancipation before it can be granted. However, if a minor claims emancipation on grounds of abuse, the court hears the case regardless of the parents' consent and may emancipate the minor or otherwise change custody arrangements.

    Types of Emancipation

    • The judge has the legal right to grant emancipation, deny it or choose something in between. Full emancipation means that the court chooses to terminate all parental rights and allow the minor to live as an adult. Partial emancipation means that the minor is viewed as an adult in some circumstances but a child in others. For example, the judge can rule that the minor may live in his own apartment but require his parents to pay his rent until his 18th birthday. If parent and child agree to the emancipation, the judge may grant an express emancipation without a hearing.

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