Granting Legal Independence to a Minor
The term “emancipation” refers to the release of legal responsbility for another person. In family court, emancipation is a legal process where a minor is released from parental control and the parents relinquish any legal responsibility for the child. In general, the various state emancipation laws require an emancipated minor to:
- Be living on his/her own, away from parents and financially independent; or
- Be married; or
- Be in the U.S. military; or
- Present other circumstances that the court considers to be justification for ordering emancipation.
This is most common circumstance is in cases where the child has moved out of the parents’ home and has become financially independent. However, it is also frequently granted when a minor marries or joins a branch of the military.
Emancipation can result from a mutual agreement between the parents and the child or it can be ordered by the court, in spite of the parents’ objections if the child can show that they are no longer reliant on the parents for support. Emancipation also occurs when the child reaches the age of majority (usually 18) unless the parents can show that the child is mentally unfit to care for himself / herself.
Should emancipation be granted, the parents are no longer responsible for the child’s care and well-being and have no authority over the child’s decisions, finances or property. The emancipated minor has rights and responsibilities that other minors do not.