Rights, Privileges, and Duties of Emancipation

Emancipation rights and privileges vary by state. But in some cases, independent living arrangements are required for emancipation to be granted in the first place.

A minor may be emancipated through a court process that allows the minor to become self-sufficient. Upon emancipation, the minor assumes adult responsibilities before reaching the age of majority. This is usually 18 years of age but varies by state. This also means that the emancipated child is no longer under the care of their parents.

Similarly, the parents are no longer expected to support the child in any way. This includes providing shelter, medical care, health care, or money. The minor no longer needs parental consent for binding contracts. Child support ends when a minor is emancipated.

Along with the freedom that emancipation may offer comes new rights, privileges, and duties of an adult world. This article discusses these aspects of emancipation.

A Brief Introduction to the Emancipation Process

Once given an emancipated status, minors have the same rights, privileges, and duties in society as adults. Depending on state law, emancipation can be automatic. This can happen if the minor joins the armed forces or gets married. Otherwise, minors must get the family court to grant their emancipation petition.

Parents may also file a petition for emancipation. The court will then determine if it's in the best interests of the minor to be emancipated. They will look at factors such as the minor's living situation, if the minor can support themselves financially, and the maturity level of the minor. But, each state's criteria may differ slightly, so a minor seeking emancipation should check their state resources.

Once given an emancipated status, minors have the same rights, privileges, and duties in society as adults. Emancipation means that the minor is no longer under parental control or the control of a legal guardian. They are a legal adult, with some exceptions.

For example, minors cannot vote until they reach the minimum age for voting in their state, even if they are emancipated. This includes drinking alcohol and obtaining a driver's license. An emancipated minor can't quit school before age 16 since federal law requires minors to attend school until that age.

The Effects of Emancipation

In some cases, the effects of emancipation are also the requirements for emancipation to be granted. For example, emancipation allows minors to live away from their parents. 

Once the minor is emancipated, they can typically do the following (depending on state law):

  • Live away from their parents
  • Keep whatever money they earn
  • Handle their own financial affairs
  • Enter into binding contracts and leases
  • Sue or be sued
  • Buy or sell real estate
  • Write a legally valid will
  • Inherit property
  • Enroll in high school, post-secondary school, or a vocational program
  • Get married
  • Agree to various types of medical treatment
  • Make medical decisions without parental permission

Also, since the minor's parents are no longer legally obligated to support the emancipated minor, they are also not legally responsible for any of the minor's actions. Under normal circumstances, parents may be liable for a minor's negligent or wrongful acts. But an emancipated minor will be sued individually for their own actions.

Upon emancipation, the minor's parents will also no longer be bound by child custody arrangements. They will not be responsible for child support for their minor child.

Talk to an Expert About the Rights, Privileges, and Duties of Emancipation

Whether you want to become legally emancipated or have questions about the process, it's often helpful to discuss these issues with a family law attorney. A lawyer can help you determine eligibility and provide sound legal advice. They can help you get your emancipation court order.

A lawyer can guide you on how the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of emancipation apply to you. They can tell you about parental rights and outline the legal duties of emancipation.

Consider speaking with a family law attorney in your area to learn more.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Minor children can go through the court process without parental consent
  • You may need legal help to understand local requirements and emancipation procedures
  • An attorney or a local legal aid office can provide more specific guidance 

Get tailored advice about seeking emancipation and ask a lawyer questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

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