How Does a Minor Get Emancipated from His or Her Parents?


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It is an unfortunate reality of our modern age that there are times when a minor would be better off being able to conduct their own affairs free from the control of their parents. When this is the case, the minor is able, in some instances, to seek what is known as “Emancipation.”

Emancipation allows a a minor to conduct business or hold a job on his or her own behalf, enter into contracts, and otherwise generally be treated as one who had reached the age of majority (i.e., an adult). Whether parental consent is required for emancipation can depend on the circumstances and the jurisdiction. When not emancipated, contracts entered into by minors are voidable, meaning the minor can void the contract at his or her discretion and leave the other party without recourse. This could apply to purchase agreements, service contract, or employment arrangements.

While discontent at home is the primary reason minors may wish to seek emancipation, there are a number of other reasons this can be an important consideration. For example, if a minor wishes or needs to live in one location while his or her parents or guardians are required to move to another. In other instances, it may be necessary for a minor to enter into contractual relationships free from the confines of the minor's parents (for instance, if trying to obtain credit without having the parents' credit scores considered).

Until an emancipation is granted by a court, a minor remains subject to the rules of his or her parents or guardians until reaching the age of majority (18 in most jurisdictions). In some cases, emancipation can be granted without a court order, particularly when the parents are unavailable, such as by death or abandonment. It is also possible, in some instances, for minors who have been acting as adults to simply continue to do so provided any other parties affected by the minor's legal status do not object.

The exact protocols for obtaining emancipation vary from state to state. In most states, the minor files a petition with the local family court, asking for the emancipation. This petition is usually required to cite reasons for the emancipation and identifying why it is in the minor's best interests to be emancipated. Generally, the minor must prove financial self-sufficiency as part of the process, making emancipation less viable for younger applicants. Some states provide free legal aid or even court appointed counsel to minors seeking emancipation.

Emancipation is difficult to obtain, as the law strongly favors minors remaining in the care of a parent or guardian until the age of majority. It is usually only upon the showing of unusual or extraordinary circumstances that emancipation will be allowed by the courts.

If you have questions about emancipation, you should consult with a local attorney in your area. You can find a list of attorneys by visiting the Law Firms page of our website.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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