What Parents Can Do When A Child Wants To Be Emancipated

Raising teenagers can sometimes be extremely challenging, especially if you have one that is rebellious and wants more freedom than you are willing to give. When this happens, teenagers will sometimes seek emancipation. If your child is preparing to file for emancipation, you may want to consult a family lawyer like Margit M. Hicks, PA Attorney at Law to find out what you should do.

What Is Emancipation?

Normally, parents have rights and responsibilities for their children until they turn 18 years old. At this point, the children become legal adults and can make all kinds of decisions on their own.

When a child is emancipated, it removes the legal rights from the parents for the child at an age that is younger than 18. Emancipation, therefore, gives a teenager the status of "adult." Most states require that children must be at least 14 years old to file for emancipation, but some states have the age set at 16.

An emancipated teenager will take on the rights and responsibilities that the parents had, but there will be limits. For example, the teenager will not have the right to vote if he or she is under the age of 18, even though the child is technically considered an adult now.

How Can A Teenager Do This?

For a teenager to become emancipated, he or she must file a petition with the court. The teenager must have an adult sign the form and appear in court with him or her, and this adult could be a relative, teacher, or clergyman.

When the court receives the petition, you will also receive a notice about this. You will be instructed to attend a court hearing for this matter, and you may want to have a lawyer present for this.

Most courts will not approve emancipation petitions unless it seems like the teenager is capable of taking care of him or herself. The courts will also take into consideration what is best for the child. As the court makes this decision, they are more likely to approve it if the child:

  • Lives somewhere other than with his or her parents
  • Earns his or her own money
  • Understands the full capacity of what emancipation means

What Are Your Rights as Parents?

While in some cases, you may want to oppose the emancipation petition, there are other times when you may want to agree to it. For example, if your child is 17 years old and wants to get married, you will have to allow the emancipation to occur in order for the child to legally get married.

In other cases, you may not want your child to become emancipated because you may feel that this is not in the child's best interest. For example, if the child is demonstrating behaviors that are dangerous, troublesome, or irresponsible, you may want to stop the emancipation from taking place.

To do this, you will need to have your family attorney file a motion of objection to the emancipation petition. Filing this motion does not necessarily mean that the court will side with you on this; however, if you do not file this motion, there is a greater chance that the court will approve the emancipation.

If the court approves the emancipation, there is nothing you can do about it, but the child can change his or her mind and have it reversed. To get an emancipation reversed, you and the child must once again go to court.

Emancipation is something that automatically happens when a child turns 18, but there are times when younger children have the desire to become legal adults. If your child decides to do this, make sure you hire a good family lawyer that understands the laws of emancipation.