Emancipation is when a person under 18 is fully independent from their parents or guardian and has adult rights. There are three ways a person under 18 can become emancipated:
- Military Order
- Court order
Asking for a Court Order of Emancipation
If you are 16 years old or older, you can ask the juvenile court for emancipation. File a Petition for Emancipation in the juvenile court in your county. Forms are in the forms section below. Use the court directory to find your local juvenile court.
After you file the petition the court will:
- send notice of the petition to your parents, any legal guardian, and other interested parties.
- schedule a hearing within 30 days. The court might also appoint a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is a lawyer who represents your best interests.
At the hearing, the court will consider what is in your best interests. The court will consider:
- whether you are capable of assuming adult responsibilities,
- whether you are capable of living independently of your parents or guardian,
- the opinions and recommendations of the guardian ad litem, your parents or guardian, and
- whether emancipation will create a risk of harm to you.
Effect of Emancipation
If the court declares the minor emancipated, the minor may:
- enter into contracts
- buy and sell property
- sue or be sued
- retain his or her own earnings
- borrow money for any purpose, including for education
- obtain healthcare without parental consent
Once a minor is emancipated, their parent or guardian is no longer responsible for their support or held liable for any torts the minor may commit.
What emancipation does not do
An emancipated minor may not vote, smoke, drink alcohol, possess tobacco or firearms until s/he reaches the legal age to do so.
An emancipated minor is not considered an adult under criminal law unless certain legal requirements are met.