Emancipation

Emancipation

First, what is emancipation?  Emancipation is the process by which a court determines that you meet the statutory requirements to become a “legal” adult before the ordinary age of majority.  

What is the age of majority and what does that mean for you? 

  • The age of majority is 18.  When you turn 18 you are afforded some basic legal rights that you wouldn’t have had before, for example, the right to contract.  If you are not 18, you cannot go and sign a lease for an apartment.  Once you turn 18 though, you can. 

How old do you have to be to petition for emancipation and how does that change your situation? 

  • If you feel like you are in a place in your life where you want the court to determine that you are a “legal” adult and you want the freedom to make your own rules and decisions, then you can petition for emancipation as early as 16. 

What else can you do if you get emancipated?  You will have the following rights and responsibilities if the emancipation petition gets granted:

  • You have the same right to make contracts and conveyances, to sue and be sued, and to make business transactions.  This is the example with signing the lease for the apartment.
  • Your parent(s), guardian, or custodian is relieved of all legal duties owed to you and is divested of all rights with respect to you.  This basically means that your parents are no longer responsible for you and your actions, including providing for your support (this includes your necessities like food, clothing, and shelter).
  • The decree is irrevocable.  If it is granted and life isn’t what you expected, the court can’t reverse it and say that your parents are responsible for you again. 

Things to Consider

Before making the decision to take on these responsibilities, you need to seriously consider whether you are in a position to support yourself and become a functioning member of society.  If you believe that you are ready to take on that responsibility, then the court will review your case and determine whether emancipation is in your best interest based on the following factors:

  1. The parental need for the earnings of the petitioner;
  2. The petitioner’s ability to function as an adult;
  3. The petitioner’s need to contract as an adult or to marry;
  4. The employment status of the petitioner and the stability of the petitioner’s living arrangements;
  5. The extent of family discord which may threaten reconciliation of the petitioner with the petitioner’s family;
  6. The petitioner’s rejection of parental supervision or support; and
  7. The quality of parental supervision or support.

When you are presenting your case, you need to have a detailed, plausible, and well thought out plan for supporting yourself for the future.  The more stable your situation is, the stronger your argument will be for getting the outcome you desire. 

Please give us a call if you have any questions at (919) 335-5291.

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