Getting Emancipated

Getting emancipated means you are treated like an adult in some ways even though you are still under the age of 18. This section gives you information about the different ways you can become an emancipated minor, and what effect emancipation has on your legal rights.

How can I get emancipated?

There are three ways you can go about getting emancipated:

1. Have a judge declare you an emancipated minor

2. Get married (Requires the consent of your parent)

3. Join the military (Requires the consent of your parent)

How do I qualify to be emancipated by a judge?

A judge may allow you to become emancipated if you are 16 years old and:
1. You are willingly living apart from your parents or legal guardian.
2. You are managing your own money.
3. The judge believes that emancipation is in your best interests.

What do I need to do to become emancipated by a judge?

You must file a petition with the district court in the county where you live that explains why you believe you should be emancipated.

Do I need my parents’ approval to become emancipated?

Not necessarily. Your petition to become emancipated will be sent to your parents or guardian. If they object to your emancipation, a judge will hear your arguments and your parents’ arguments and decide whether or not emancipation is in your best interest.

Do I need to have a job to become emancipated?

Not necessarily. To become emancipated you need to show that you are managing your own money. To prove this you can show that you have a job or that you are receiving benefits that help you provide for yourself (for example, buying food, clothes, school supplies, etc.).

Do I need to be in school to become emancipated?

The law does not state that you must be attending school, but judges will take into consideration whether you are pursuing educational goals to help you support yourself in the future. The judge would want a very good reason for you not be in school.

What happens once I am emancipated?

Once you are emancipated many things may change. For example:
You can consent to your own medical, dental and/or mental health care.
You can sign contracts. For example, you can sign a lease to get your own apartment.
You can sue in your own name. For example, you can sue to get child support for your child. Be careful, emancipation also means that you can be sued and you will be solely responsible. Your parents or guardians would no longer be responsible for your actions.
You are no longer under your parents’ control.
Your parents do not have to support you financially.
You can decide where you want to live and establish your own residence.
You can buy and sell property.
You can receive the same public benefits as minors who are not emancipated (for example: Social Security, TANF, Food Stamps, & Medicaid).

A judge will decide whether or not to grant you full emancipation (all of the changes mentioned above would apply to you) or partial emancipation (some of the changes mentioned above would apply to you). For example, a judge could decide to emancipate you partially so you can still get financial support from your parents. In that instance, you are emancipated for everything else, but can receive child support until you turn 18.

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