How do I Become an Emancipated Minor?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

An emancipated minor is a person under the legal age of adulthood that gains full legal independence from his or her parents or guardians. In most places, a person can only become an emancipated minor under specific conditions, such as marriage, financial independence, or military service. Becoming an emancipated minor is a big step that requires careful consideration, but most regions do have a legal process for achieving this goal.

An emancipated minor is a person who is under the legal age of adulthood that gains legal independence from his or her parents.
An emancipated minor is a person who is under the legal age of adulthood that gains legal independence from his or her parents.

Financial independence is the key to becoming an emancipated minor for many people. To get emancipation on this ground, the minor must be able to show that he or she has legal, documented income or resources that will cover basic necessities, such as rent, food, and medical care. In some jurisdictions, a minor can only apply for emancipation based on financial independence if he or she is already permanently living away from home and surviving on an earned income. While it is sometimes possible to financially survive without assistance as a teenager, it is important to know that emancipation does not supersede child labor laws, and there may be restrictions on how many hours a teenager can work.

An individual may become an emancipated minor under specific conditions, such as marriage.
An individual may become an emancipated minor under specific conditions, such as marriage.

In some regions, a minor can achieve emancipation if he or she marries before reaching the age of adulthood. Depending on the regional laws, marriage before age 18 can require parent or guardian permission, or even a court order. Getting married solely to achieve emancipation can be a very risky proposition, and may even be considered fraudulent in some places. Only if a minor truly wants to have a permanent marriage and is able to financially survive with his or her spouse should this option be considered.

An individual may become an emancipated minor under specific conditions, such as military service.
An individual may become an emancipated minor under specific conditions, such as military service.

With parental and official consent, a person can achieve emancipation by joining the military. Joining the military is a binding contract that can affect career, education, and life choices for many years, so it is not a decision to be made lightly. In order to join the military before adulthood, a signed waiver from parents or guardians is required. Forging a waiver signature may be grounds for disciplinary action, dismissal, or even criminal charges.

Emancipation may be a legal option for minors who are being abused by their parents.
Emancipation may be a legal option for minors who are being abused by their parents.

In most places, a person becomes an emancipated minor by filing a legal petition for emancipation. These can be found at local courthouses, and may require a filing fee. Legal experts warn that while it is possible to file a request for a fee waiver, it is possible that the court will take a waiver request as a sign that a teen is not financially independent. If possible, consider visiting a free legal aid clinic or hiring a lawyer to help with emancipation paperwork.

After the paperwork is filed, a judge will set a hearing date if he or she thinks there is grounds for the case. At the hearing, both the parents and the minor can present evidence for or against emancipation. The judge will make a decision based on this evidence, which will serve as a final judgment to allow or not allow emancipation.

Minors who are being abused by their parents may want to consider alerting child protective services or the police as well as filing for emancipation. Physical or sexual abuse and neglect are criminal actions in most places, and a judge may very well consider any criminal reports of abuse when making an emancipation decision. In addition, reporting abuse can open the door to other viable options for those that are not financially independent, such as transferring guardianship to a trustworthy relative.

Children who are victims of neglect may want to consider alerting child protective services.
Children who are victims of neglect may want to consider alerting child protective services.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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I am 17 years old. I have a 15 month old but he lives with his father because I can't trust my mother since when I was three years old I got taken from her because my little brother who was seven months old at the time got his arm broken and some mild head damage from my mother's boyfriend at the time.

I just started living with her again just a year ago after 12 years of living with my dad and almost two years of living with my boyfriend (my son's father) and his family.

She makes me do just about everything, from cleaning, to laundry to taking care of my siblings. I have two little brothers and a younger sister and my mother never knows where they are. I'm the one who watches them even when I'm at work I know where they are.

I have a job, I'm doing awesome in school and I'm good with money, but my mom won't let me move out. How can I? I can't take much more of raising my mother's kids when I'm not even allowed to raise my own because of fear that my mom might do something to him.


My daughter's friend is a 17 year old female, and her mom kicked her out permanently. She's a good kid, in church, works. She's a student and responsible, but mom chose a boyfriend over her daughter.

The daughter can no longer live with grandparents as they are old, and can't handle all the activity. How can I help her? We have always been close. What rights does she have being 17? Her birthday isn't until December. Her dad is in jail, so she literally has nowhere to go. Please give advice. Thank you!


I will be 16 in two months. I have a job already set up for me when I turn 16. I live with my mom and her fiancee and his son. His son is waited on hand and foot, and there is no attention paid to me. They always buy him whatever he wants, no matter how much the cost, but they always tell me they don't have the money to but me things I need, like body wash, toothpaste, medicine, sometimes food. They both do nothing but sleep and if I ever wake them up for any reason I get yelled at. My real dad is not stable enough to take care of me and doesn't care about me anyway, so I can't live with him. I have no other family to move in with.

I have straight A's in school and a 3.4 gpa. I graduate year after next, but I can't take it anymore. All they do is stress me out and cause me to have panic attacks with all the yelling and arguing that goes on. I want to get emancipated but they won't consent. Could anyone help me?


I will be 16 in two months. i live with my mom and her fiancee and his son. They treat his son like royalty and wait on him hand and foot and i'm just there. i never get fed and always end up having food given to me by people who feel bad for me and i hate it. i have a job waiting for me when im 16 i have a 3.4gpa. i'm always getting yelled at for every little thing i do. i want to get emancipated but they won't consent, could anyone help me?


I want to be emancipated because my father drinks from morning to night and treats me like a slave. So does his girlfriend. She makes me take care of her five kids, age 8 and under. I always get yelled at and I'm tired of it.


How can I become financially stable as a 15 year old for emancipation?


My boyfriend's mom called my mom and told her all of these lies, but one of them was the truth. When my mom came home, she just started beating me and I was trying to explain the situation to her, but she never listens to because she always thinks that I am lying. After a few times of her hitting me, I started to fight back and then my dad came in the room dived on me and choked me and said, "Don't you ever hit your mother ever again in your life!” I began to cry and then my dad told her to stop hitting me and then I walked out of the room.

My mom and my boyfriend's mom kept talking on the phone and it's like the more they talked, the more lies were told. My boyfriend and I got in trouble and his mom kicked him out. My mom came into my room at 12:30 a.m., poking me with needles saying, "Wake up. Wake up, stupid," so I started kicking and moving around, trying to get her to stop.

She turned my phone off and she's making it so I can't go anywhere, no one can come over, and I have to find my way to cheering and back home. I really just want to move out because she's doing all of this over nothing instead of being a mother and sitting down and talking to me about the situation. She's saying if I run out of lunch money, I'm either going to starve or I have to find my own money. I can't go shopping if they go to the mall or anything. I just want to leave because ever since the end of November until now, she has done nothing but treat me wrong and I'm fed up. I don't know what to do. Can somebody help?


My father constantly tells me to move out or go away. I live with the rest of my autistic family. He is usually never home, and when he is, he typically belittles everyone around me. He tells me I am not the perfect daughter, always yelling at me for not being what he wants. He does not provide for me -- my other family does. Do I have grounds for emancipation?


I want to get emancipated cause my mom is going off and yelling at me, I'm getting tired of listening to it and now I barely come home. She doesn't do anything about it, but when I want to transfer schools she won't sign the papers, so if I get emancipated, can I get legal custody of signing papers and doing what I want? It may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me.


I'm 15 years old, and I come home to loud arguments with my parents over things that I never knew about, They blame me for all their mistakes trying to make me feel guilty.

I can support myself financially, but apparently I can't have money because it "magically disappears." My parents take it from my door. I have no type of privacy.

I'd like to get emancipated because I can't take any more of their selfish arguments. I work for nothing. Can someone tell me what I can do to get emancipated?


My mom is always drinking and when she gets wasted she always goes off on me. I came home today and she wasn't talking to me at all and when I try and leave she tells me that I'm not going anywhere. Her abusive boyfriend is always hitting on my little sister and he even choked me one day.

I'm tired of it all. She's always talking about how we don't love her and how she's not going to feed us today, etc., etc. I'm 16 years old and I have two brothers and two sisters. What do I do to get emancipated and fast?


I am 15 and I want to become emancipated and I really don't know how. If someone could comment and tell me I would appreciate it.


I am 14. My father is a bad person. He has threatened to kill me and my mother and I had to live with him for two years, but eventually I was able to find a way to move in with my mom but now my mom gets extremely intoxicated on alcohol and does nothing around the house. I do everything and she rarely buys me food.

I work around the neighborhood trying to do yard work to get money for food. I want to be emancipated. I have good reasoning for it. I currently live with my brother but I am very responsible and can be responsible with money so I believe I could raise myself. I have practically been doing it for about two years now.


I want to become emancipated from my distant mother. Nearly three years ago, she became an addict to the game Second Life, and met a man there. They have only seen each other twice before. She wants to move to Chicago to live with him right before my senior year of high school.

She doesn't care about me or my older sister anymore and I feel she only keeps us around so we can feed her, since the only time she gets up is to go to work. Her only focus is the guy she met online and I'm tired of feeling second best.

I'm 16 years old and currently see no way out of moving, but I want to become emancipated so I don't have to deal with her selfishness anymore.


My heart goes out to the children who are actually being abused or living under conditions no one should deal with. My situation is I am providing for my son who is 15 years old. I am constantly going to court with him for violent threats and destruction of property. He is rude and disrespectful to me, to his mother, father, sisters and most of all, himself. He walks out at night without my permission. He curses and has threatened me on several occasions.

I've called the police and it feels like I must accept and be threatened and abused by him daily. Where does my help come from?

I know God puts no more on you than you can bear, and I'm calling on the name of Jesus to guide and order my steps. Come rescue me!


I am 15 and I hate where I live. I live with my grandparents and if I do the smallest thing wrong, they get all mean and threaten me. They've even hit me before.

I'm like their slave because I do just about everything there is to do in the house. I take care of almost all of the animals, I am to do the dishes all the time and clean the house all by myself. I know this sounds like the typical teenage sob story but it's not. I need to get out of here or there are going to be serious problems. Is there any way I could be emancipated before I turn 16?


All right, so I'm turning 17 in six months, and currently looking for a job. My household is not stable at all. My mom makes dramatic moves every other year (from texas to connecticut) because my family lives in texas. When I was little I used to live with my father, and his wife would emotionally abuse me and I'd get beaten with a belt pretty much every day.

I eventually moved in with my mom and she also had an abusive spouse who caused me extensive emotional trauma until a few months ago. Now she has a new boyfriend and is planning another dramatic move right before my senior year in high school. I'm going to be homeless in october because our house is being foreclosed.

She cannot financially support my needs at all. If I want something I have to save money to buy it (for ex: a shirt, hair dye, even shampoo. Sometimes food) and I live in constant fear from the emotional abuse. I can't even stay in the same room as my mom for very long or I start shaking. I've already done research and if I take it to the courts, I figured I could live with a friend who has a stable household and pay rent and go on food stamps just until my senior year in high school is over and then I can get a better paying job and actually find my own apartment. Also with health care, I'm researching HUSKY? I've pretty much got everything figured out. I just need a second opinion.


If what this person is true, she needs to go to CPS and report what is going on. They and her mother can assist in getting her out of this abusive environment.


I'm almost seventeen years old and I've been living with my dad for five years now. I grew up in a broken home, my parents divorced when I was three and my mom took me into her custody. I lived with her until I was twelve, the whole time, only seeing my dad on the first, third, and fourth weekends of the months, I believed my life would be better over there. It was for the first few months.

I'm not the brightest kid in the world, and I struggle in school. I have ADD and wasn't on medication. I have a hard time focusing on school work and keeping my grades up. My Dad yells at me constantly over them and refuses to change the subject 90 percent of the time.

He constantly yells at me, calling me a 'slut', and several other explicit names I have grown to hate. He doesn't know that I'm bi, and he's very racist and vulgar. I do listen to music that's 'inappropriate' for my age, but it's mainly to rebel against him.

I've been in this relationship with this guy for three months now. We're engaged and planning a life together. He works from after school until nine at night. My dad found out we were talking at ten at night and flipped, taking my phone away from nine at night until seven twenty the next morning. My dad doesn't like my boyfriend. At all. My lover is now eighteen and I'm turning eighteen in July of next year.

Though I'm trying to stay in this whole thing with my dad, its getting harder each go around. He tells me my life is meaningless and that I'm going to end up 'just like my mum' - 'a useless whore who's a menace to society'. I've tried moving back with my Mum and he won't allow it.

He's constantly belittling me and I'm sick of it. He's threatened many times to kill himself because I 'make his blood pressure rise.' My boyfriend said I'd be better off emancipated, and I agree, but can a child whose scars are under the skin become emancipated from a parent who gets pleasure from hurting them emotionally?

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