Emancipation of minors

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Emancipation of minors is a legal mechanism by which a minor is freed from control by his or her parents or guardians, and the parents or guardians are freed from any and all responsibility toward the child. In some cases, emancipation can be granted without due court granting when the minor is bound to make a decision for themselves in the absence of their parents (who may be already dead or who may have abandoned the minor).

In some countries of the world[which?], adolescents below the legal age of majority (adulthood) may be emancipated in different manners: through marriage, attaining economic self-sufficiency, obtaining an educational degree or diploma, or participating in a form of military service.

Emancipation in the United States[edit]

Minors are under the control of their parents or legal guardians, until they attain the age of majority, at which point they become legal adults. In most states this is upon turning 18 years of age. However, in special circumstances, minors can be freed from control by their guardian before turning 18.

The exact laws and protocols for obtaining emancipation vary from state to state. In most states, minors must file a petition with the family court in the applicable jurisdiction, formally requesting emancipation and citing reasons it is in their best interest to be emancipated. Minors must prove financial self-sufficiency. In some states, free legal aid is available to minors seeking emancipation, through children law centers. This can be a valuable resource for minors trying to create a convincing emancipation petition. Students are able to stay with a guardian if necessary.

Emancipation is not easily granted because of the subjectivity and narrowness of the definition of "best interest." Some are minors who have been victims of abuse. In most cases, the state's department of child services will be notified and the child placed in foster care. Others are minors who are seeking emancipation for reasons such as being dissatisfied with their parents' or guardians' rules.

Where a statute of limitations for bringing a legal action is tolled while a person is a minor, emancipation will usually end that tolling.

Based of federal and state laws, children whose physical or mental disability is severe, to the extent that they are incapable of caring for themselves, may not necessarily be considered or legally viewed as emancipated even though they are otherwise adults, having otherwise attained the age of majority, or 18 years of age (in most states). This may or may not affect legal matters related to such things as insurance benefits, SSI, SSDI, wills, tax obligations to them and their caretakers, medical decisions, religious choices, residential and other accommodations, etc. due to their non-emancipated status.

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