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Emancipation in Utah

ct frontview.jpgIn 2006, the Utah State legislature passed a law that provides statutory provisions for minors age 16 and older to petition the Utah Juvenile Court for emancipation. Prior to 2006, emancipation of a minor only existed in common law and was granted only in extraordinary circumstances. For more information about the initial passage of the law, see The "Lost Boys" Law: Governor Signs Emancipation Bill to Help Homeless Teens. The Utah Attorney General's office also provides more information about emancipation on the Youth 411 page.

Under the Emancipation of a Minor Act, if the court grants emancipation, the parental responsibilities of a parent, custodian or guardian are terminated. Utah Code 78A-6-805. However, even if the minor is emancipated, the minor does not acquire all legal rights of an adult. Most notably, an emancipated minor is not considered an adult under certain criminal laws and where there are other laws about age requirements, including voting and the use and purchase of alcohol and tobacco. Utah Code 78A-6-805.

At a court hearing, the court determines the best interest of the minor by considering the following factors:
1) whether the minor is capable of assuming adult responsibilities; 2) whether the minor is capable of living independently of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian; 3) opinions and recommendations from the guardian ad litem, parents, guardian, or custodian, and any other evidence; and 4) whether emancipation will create a risk of harm to the minor. A declaration of emancipation is made if the court determines that there is clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interests of the minor to grant it. Utah Code 78A-6-804.

To petition the court for emancipation, you can use these free forms provided by the Utah State Courts.

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