In the United States of America, a child is considered a minor until they reach 18 years old. Before that time, it is up to their parents or guardians to make decisions for them on what they want and don’t want. However, this does not mean that minors can’t have any say in what happens with their lives. There are some exceptions where children as young as 16 years old can file an emancipation petition if certain criteria are met. This post will go over those criteria and answer the big question: what does emancipation mean.
What is Emancipation?
Emancipation of a minor is when a person legally under the age of adulthood has freedom from parental control and gains the status of being an adult. This process is supposed to be done lawfully and not forgetting for the minor to become emancipated; specific requirements need to be met both at the state level and in one’s country.
What are The Benefits of Emancipation?
There are various reasons why a minor would want to be emancipated. A couple of these reasons are:
- The minor wants a sense of independence.
- Since the minor is on their own and paying their bills, their credit score could increase.
- Be emancipated provides self-discipline.
- Proper time management
Who Qualifies for Emancipation?
This process of emancipation involves legal action, and sometimes each state may have different guidelines for this process. There are plenty of reasons why minors may request emancipation. Still, the process usually requires the individual to be self-sufficient financially, and authorities may question if being emancipated is in their best interest.
Minors under the age of 18 can qualify for emancipation; the minor can go through the emancipation process to break through the control or care of their parents. If the minor can be emancipated based on the state’s requirements, they are free to act and behave as adults. However, there can also be some legal age restrictions that are still applied.
How does one go about obtaining their emancipated status?
There a various ways someone can become emancipated. To obtain an emancipation status, one must be in either one of these categories.
- Military service – someone under 18 can join the military to gain emancipation only through parental consent and a signed waiver. Forging one is a severe crime, and there can be strict disciplinary actions by doing so.
- Marriage – If a teenager marries, then emancipation is possible. If the teenager gets married before 18, the parent or guardian can give their permission to do so or court order. Gaining emancipation through marriage is very risky, and if not carefully done, it may seem fraudulent based on one’s location. The minor should think this out, and if they can financially support each other and have a permanent marriage, this option could work out.
- Financial independence – To get emancipated, the minor must show proof of legal documentation covering their necessities like medical care, rent, and food. There could be an exception where if a minor lives independently, they can apply for financial independence. One should also note that emancipation can’t replace child labor laws, and there can be certain restrictions as to how many hours of work a teenager can put in.
- By filing a petition – A minor can file a petition, and it can often be found at local courthouses, and filing fees can also be required. However, legal experts caution individuals that while filing a petition for emancipation is possible, the court could take a waiver request to prove that a person under 18 is not financially stable.
Becoming emancipated is a huge decision, and one must think it out first. However, many countries have different processes to make it happen.
Pros and Cons of being an Emancipated Minor
There are some pros as well as cons of being emancipated. Here are a few reasons how it’s possible and maybe even impossible for a minor. Also, note that some states have different requirements and laws based on emancipation rights.
- Money earned can be kept.
- Health care decisions will be your choice and not your parent’s, such as using birth control or having an abortion or not.
- Enroll in a particular school of your choice without your parent’s advice.
- The minor can apply for public benefits.
- The individual can’t vote.
- Financial support from parents will no longer be available.
- Employment consent is required to obtain an employment certificate.
- There may be some issues with the minor leasing an apartment.
- A minor would need parental consent to go through the marriage process.
- Filing a lawsuit would be difficult.