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Emancipation is a legal process through which children can become adults before the age of eighteen (18).  The minimum age that a child can become emancipated is fourteen (14).  If a child becomes emancipated, neither parent has custody or control of the child.  The child is responsible for his or her own physical and financial wellbeing.  Typically if a child is emancipated, he or she is emancipated forever.  In rare cases where the child requesting emancipation has lied to the court or is unable to support him or herself, the emancipation may be cancelled.

What can emancipated minors do without their parents?
An emancipated minor does not need parent permission to obtain medical care, apply for a work permit or sign up for school (including college).  In addition, an emancipated minor may live wherever he or she wants to without parental consent.  However, by becoming emancipated, a child gives up the legal right to be financially supported by his or her parents.  Although a minor may be emancipated, he or she is still bound by the law.  Therefore, all emancipated minors must attend school up to the required level.
What do emancipated minors still need parent permission for?
Interestingly, emancipated minors cannot get married without permission from their parents or from the court.  This portion of the emancipation statutes was likely enacted to deter young teenagers from seeking emancipation for the sole purpose of getting married against their parents’ wishes.

How can minors become emancipated?
There are three methods through which a minor can become emancipated.  First, with parental consent, the minor may get married and automatically become emancipated. Second, with parental consent, the minor may join the armed forces.  If a minor seeks emancipation by joining the armed forces, the armed forces must also agree to accept the minor. Third, a minor can obtain a declaration of emancipation from a judge by establishing the minimum age of fourteen (14), providing evidence of financial stability, and establishing that it is in his or her best interest to be emancipated.

What are some alternatives to emancipation?
If a minor and his or her parents are struggling to live in the same household there are some alternatives to the drastic step of emancipation.  The first step that the parties may want to take is to get counseling or attend mediation to see if they can work out their differences with the help of a neutral third party.  If counseling or mediation fails, the minor can go to live with another adult such as an uncle, aunt, grandparent or family friend.  In some cases, living with another adult is not a viable option so the parties may consider reaching an agreement for the minor to live somewhere else.

If you wish to schedule a consultation with Nancy J. Bickford, contact us at (858) 793-8884.