What is emancipation and how does it work?
Family Law Lawyer Rockville, MD
The emancipation of a minor child is achieved when the fundamental dependent relationship between parents and children is concluded. The parent must give up their custodial rights and are relieved of the burden of support. Every emancipation case is always fact-sensitive, and the essential question to be answered is whether or not the child has moved past the sphere of influence and responsibility of his or her parents. Moreover, the child must obtain an independent status of his or her own.
Many people know that family law lawyers typically handle matters like child custody and divorce. Still, the emancipation of minor children is also something that a family-focused law firm can address. Divorce lawyers Rockville, MD can assist in determining whether or not a minor child should be emancipated. Since emancipation is a complex determination, it is crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced and qualified family law attorney.
What is emancipation?
Parents or court-appointed guardians are legally responsible for their children until they reach the age of 18, at which point they’re considered adults from a legal perspective. This means that parents or guardians have a responsibility to provide food, clothing, housing, and education until their children reach the age of maturity. Parents and guardians are also typically responsible for making decisions about the child’s medical care and financial wellbeing. After the age of 18, minor children are automatically emancipated. However, in some cases, a child under the age of 18 may be emancipated, or divorced, from their parents or guardians.
To become emancipated, minor children must submit a petition to the court and show proof that they can support themselves financially. They must show enough evidence to convince the court that they are ready to take on the responsibilities of adulthood before they become an adult from a legal perspective.
In most states, a minor child can become emancipated when they reach the age of 16. A few states allow for children as young as 14 or 15 to petition for emancipation. Additionally, if a minor child has a cognitive disability that prohibits them from automatic emancipation at the age of 18, they may petition the court for emancipation at a later time, once they can take on adult responsibilities. This is common if an individual is not ready to take on these responsibilities upon reaching the age of 18, but is eventually capable of making adult decisions and supporting themselves.
What are the benefits of emancipation?
Most families are used to supporting their children throughout adolescence (and, as is increasingly common, even beyond that point). However, in some instances, minors may find that they benefit from emancipation—either because they do not have a good relationship with their parents or guardians, or solely for legal reasons. Some benefits of emancipation are as follows:
- The minor can make medical decisions for himself or herself
- The minor can enroll in a school of their choosing
- The minor can enter into a contract, such as a lease or a loan
- The minor can keep all the income they earn, and their parents or guardians cannot have any control over what happens to that money
- The minor can enroll in public benefit programs
Of course, parents and guardians are still able to care for a child who becomes emancipated. The critical point is that parents and guardians are no longer legally obligated to do so.
What factors into emancipation?
Whenever minor children are concerned, family courts will always take into consideration the best interests of the child. Courts typically consider factors such as:
- The education level of the minor
- The maturity level of the minor
- Where the minor is living
- If parents or guardians had ever abused the minor
- If the minor has income and can support themselves financially
- If the minor child has reached the minimum age at which they can become legally emancipated
Each emancipation case is considered and decided on its own merits. Therefore, it is essential to consult with an experienced Rockville, MD family lawyer. The party moving to emancipate a minor child must present a persuasive case to the judge to prove why emancipation must be granted.
If you have any additional questions about emancipation, it’s recommended that you speak with a family law lawyer Rockville, MD offers at Daniel J. Wright for more information.