When a minor wants to be out from under the financial care of their parents, they can go through a court process called emancipation. If successful, the minor is responsible for their own finances and can make what once were adult decisions on their own behalf. The parents lose any rights to the minor’s income and are not responsible for the care and financial needs of the child. In order for the court to grant emancipation to a minor, the child has to demonstrate to the court that they are mature enough and have the financial means to take care of themselves.
The court will look specifically at:
- Whether or not you are self-sufficient financially
- Do you have living arrangements that are stable
- Do you have the maturity to make adult decisions?
- Did you graduate from high school or are you in the process of doing so?
There are circumstances in a teens life where it may benefit them to become emancipated from their parents. Reasons may include:
- You are financially independent and do not want your parents to have any control over your finances
- You are legally married but still a minor
- You have neglectful, abusive parents
- You morally disagree with the living situation of your parents
- You have been kicked out of your home
If you become an emancipated minor you can:
- Sue another party — or you could be sued and be financially liable
- Buy or rent and furnish a home
- Attend any school you choose
- Apply for public assistance
- Keep and control all of your income
- Make decisions about and pay for your own healthcare
- Sign contracts and be legally responsible for whatever you sign
Your parents are no longer responsible financially or even obligated to give you any support. If you are receiving child support benefits, those will stop as well.
The main benefit of becoming an emancipated teen is that you can work and live without your parent’s interference.
What Emancipation Will NOT Let You Do
Being an emancipated minor does not allow you to participate in activities where the law states you must be a certain age to participate — such as buying and drinking alcohol, getting married, or voting.
In almost half of the states, you automatically become emancipated if you are a minor and you get married, join the military, or turn 18.
What Age Can a Minor Become Emancipated?
In most states, you can ask for emancipation from your parents at the age of sixteen. In California, however, you can be fourteen and ask the court to be emancipated.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
There are many situations where it makes sense for a teen to become emancipated from their parents. A family law attorney with experience in emancipation law can work with you to help the process proceed smoothly. The attorney can answer your questions and prepare you for what to expect during the court process and talk to you about the responsibilities that come with being emancipated.