Emancipation is the process by which a guardian relinquishes - or is made to relinquish - parental control over a minor (that is, someone under the age of 18). The child then gains certain rights which are usually reserved for adults, thought not all of them. There are several situations under which a minor may wish to seek emancipation, or when a parent may wish to have them emancipated for practical reasons. However, until a court legally grants an emancipation, the child is still legally subject to the rules and guidance of their parent or guardian.
The first common way a minor in the United States can become emancipated is by joining the military. This is an issue of practicality, as once a minor is a member of the US armed forces, he or she is ultimately answerable to the government, not his or her parents. However, for a minor to join the military in the first place, the approval of the parents is required. In this sense, it is a sort of transfer of responsibility, from parent to government.
Like military service, a minor becoming married makes parental responsibility impractical. Also like military service, a marriage requires the guardian to agree to the minor getting married. The duty of a minor to obey his or her parents is replaced by the minor's obligation to support his or her spouse.
The third common reason for the emancipation of a minor is continued domestic abuse. Repeated abuse form a parent is usually grounds for emancipation if the child is supporting himself or herself. If the child is too young for this, he or she is usually remanded into the custody of the state. The decision of a court to allow a child emancipation due to abuse is very dependent on the circumstances of the case. If you believe you have a right to emancipation, it can help to discuss your case with a family lawyer before proceeding.
Filing for Emancipation
The laws regarding how a minor obtains emancipation vary by state, although there is plenty of common ground. The minor must file a petition with the court, which usually requires proving an adequate reason for seeking independence. The filer must also prove economic independence. Finally, except in cases of abuse, the minor must prove parental consent.
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