California Emancipation of Minors
Under both state and federal law, parents are legally responsible for their children. In California, the age of majority – the age at which a child becomes a legal adult – is eighteen. But under certain circumstances, a minor may petition the court to be considered a legal adult before they turn eighteen. This process is known as the emancipation of a minor.
What Does Emancipation Do?
If a judge grants a minor’s request for emancipation, that minor becomes a legal adult. They assume adult responsibility for their own welfare, and are no longer under the legal care of their parents.
The minor also receives all the rights, privileges, and duties of being an adult. This includes being able to:
- Enter into contracts
- Initiate litigation
- Enroll in schools of choice
- Apply for public benefits
- Earn and keep income
- Make healthcare decisions
The only restrictions are that an emancipated minor cannot take part in activities that require they be older by law. For example, purchasing/consuming alcohol, voting, or getting married.
California Emancipation Requirements
In California, the minimum age for emancipation is fourteen. While true that many cases of emancipation involve minors who wish to free themselves from abusive and/or unfit parents, another common reason is for children with high incomes.
Emancipation is frequently seen as a method for minors with a substantial personal income to protect that income from irresponsible, greedy parents. This is most common with child actors, musicians, and other careers in entertainment.
It is also possible for a person with a mental disability or handicap to petition for emancipation, even after they reach the age of majority. If the mental illness is not so debilitating as to preclude adult decision-making, a judge may grant the petition to allow the person control over his or her finances and enjoyment of the various social, legal, and economic benefits that come with emancipation.
Starting The Emancipation Process
A minor who wishes to be emancipated from their parents will almost certainly need the help of an experienced attorney. An attorney will work with the minor to file a petition and attend a hearing in front of a judge.
At the hearing, a judge will review the minor’s petition, along with any evidence provided by either the minor, their parents, and anyone else who may present relevant information or testimony about the minor.
After the hearing is complete, the judge will decide either to grant or deny the minor’s request for emancipation.
For more information, or to get help with a family law issue, please contact our offices for a free consultation.
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