Southern California Family Law Blog

Who Can Get Emancipated? 

Emancipation is the process by which teenagers under 18 are granted legal adulthood by the court. Once you are emancipated, you are no longer under the custody of your parents, meaning you can do certain things without your parents’ permission. These include: 

  • Living on your own 
  • Making healthcare decisions 
  • Applying for a work permit 
  • Enrolling in school 

However, even if you are emancipated, certain laws still apply to you as a minor. For example, you cannot: 

  • Quit school 
  • Buy alcohol 
  • Get married without parental consent 
  • Be tried in adult court 

In order to get a declaration of emancipation from a judge, you must prove the following: 

  • You are at least 14 years old 
  • You do not want to live with your parents and your parents do not mind if you move out 
  • You can handle your own finances 
  • You have a legal way to make money 
  • Emancipation would be in your best interest 

What Is the Process for Emancipation? 

Emancipation can be a difficult process, especially for a teenager to handle alone. To get a declaration of emancipation, there are several steps to follow: 

  1. Fill out the Petition for Declaration of Emancipation of Minor and attach any necessary forms found on your court’s website. 
  2. Pay the fee to file your petition. If you cannot pay, fill out a fee waiver. 
  3. Provide a written statement to the court that explains: 
    • How you live 
    • Why you want to be emancipated 
    • How you support yourself and your children, if you have any 
  4. Ask your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center to review your forms. 
  5. File your petition, forms, and statement. 
  6. Wait for the judge to accept your petition, reject it, or schedule a hearing within 30 days. If the judge accepts your petition without a hearing, you are legally emancipated. 
  7. If the judge schedules a hearing, give notice to your parents or guardian regarding the time and place of the hearing. To give notice, you must find a server 18 years or older to give your parents a copy of your papers. 
  8. Attend your court hearing, and be prepared to answer the judge’s questions about your emancipation. If the judge accepts your petition, you are now legally emancipated. 

Can I Prevent My Child From Getting Emancipated? 

If you are a parent whose child is seeking emancipation, you may be worried and confused. Under some circumstances, emancipation may not be the best option for your child. If you believe that your child should remain in your custody, you can attempt to block the emancipation by presenting a valid argument before the judge. For example, if the teen in question suffers from a mental illness, you may be able to prove to the judge that your child needs you for support.

There are other alternatives to emancipation for teens who do not want to continue living with their parents, and it may be worth discussing these options with your child. These include: 

  • Living with another adult such as a grandparent or aunt/uncle 
  • Getting counseling for the family 
  • Getting help from government or private agencies 
  • Making an agreement for the child to live somewhere else 

In any case, the emancipation process is difficult and taxing for all involved. To guide you and your family through the process, you need an experienced family law attorney. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you need help with emancipation, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can assist you. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California family law firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in child custody cases, and we have the skills and resources to help you as well. We know that these cases can be tough and stressful, but we will be there every step of the way. You can place your trust in us. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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