It would be wonderful if every couple could live happily ever after, every family could be a happy one. But we all know that just isn’t the case. We regularly face divorce and child custody issues in our practice. One type of case we see less but is just as impactful to a family is child emancipation.

Sometimes, young people under age 18 think they would be better off making decisions for themselves without involvement of a parent or legal guardian. That’s when they seek to be emancipated, meaning that they can be given the same rights of adulthood as an 18-year-old.

Many teenagers dream of living on their own, not realizing just how tough it is to be an adult. Sometimes there are good reasons to want independence. They include being married; being financially independent; living with parents who neglect or abuse you and being kicked out of the family home.

If you’re thinking about seeking emancipation, you’ll have to consider these issues.

  1. Where will you live and how will you pay for it?
  2. Can you pay for your own health care?
  3. Do you understand that everything from signing a lease to buying car insurance represents a contract that you are responsible for paying?
  4. Can you buy your own food, and then prepare it?
  5. You can be sued.

In some states, you can be emancipated without going to court. In Pennsylvania, for instance, teens between ages 16 and 18 who are married automatically become emancipated. Or, teens who join the military at age 17, with parental permission, are emancipated.

If those do not apply to your situation, you can file in court for a declaration of emancipation. A court will consider whether you can support yourself, have a stable place to live, are mature enough, or are in school or have a high school diploma in deciding whether to grant the request.

If you are considering emancipation, our attorneys can answer any questions about the process and let you know what preparations you must make if you want to seek emancipation. Some teenagers realize they aren’t ready to make such a move after such a discussion. For others, it’s a viable option.