Although the American legal system does what it can to protect minors from abuse, neglect and adult responsibilities, there is no question that many American kids are subjected to circumstances that both the legal system and their parents have utterly failed to protect them from. When it becomes apparent that a minor has become capable of “taking care of” himself or herself and it becomes preferable for that minor to take on the world without the legal and financial whims of a parent holding that young person back, the legal process of emancipation may be considered. With the aid of an experienced attorney, some minors (who meet strict eligibility criteria) may be able to assume legal responsibility for themselves before they reach the age of majority (generally considered the age of 18).
Emancipation of a Minor – The Basics
Emancipated minors are no longer subject to the legal authority of their parents (or, in the case of foster children, the state). A host of both responsibilities and liabilities accompany the emancipation process, so it should not be approached lightly. Although regulations vary from state to state, emancipated minors are generally allowed to enter into legally binding contracts, apply for work and retain any income from such work, enroll in schools of their choice and make individual healthcare decisions. However, there are some restrictions tied to emancipation. With few exceptions, emancipated minors cannot marry or quit school before they reach the age of majority. Similarly, they remain subject to age limits applied to imbibing alcohol, voting, etc.
With some exceptions, one must generally petition a court in order to become emancipated. Depending on the specifics of state regulations on the subject, minors must generally show that they have a self-supporting income, a stable place to live, remain enrolled in high school (or has graduated) and are mature enough to make adult decisions before their emancipation requests will be granted.
Legal Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about the process of emancipation or the realities associated with becoming officially emancipated, please consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney today. Becoming emancipated is not a process to be considered lightly. In many cases, it can be a genuine lifesaver for kids whose homelives are just plain unlivable. It can also be beneficial for those kids whose careers, educational needs or medical conditions make this legal transition both possible and practical. However, you need to fully understand all that you will be held responsible for in the event that you become emancipated. You do not want to unintentionally set yourself up for an even more difficult situation than you are already living through.
Consultations are generally confidential, so you should not hesitate to speak up If you have questions. A law firm is extensively experienced in all major areas of family law and will be happy to help address your concerns. Should you ultimately decide to file legal action, a lawyer can provide support and guidance as you navigate this legal transition. Call today to set up a consultation.