WHAT IS IT?
Emancipation confers the rights of majority (a legal adult) upon a minor. This means an emancipated minor will be treated the same as an adult when making contracts and transacting other business. Emancipated minors may also be sued and are responsible for any debts incurred, such as medical debt.
Being emancipated does not mean that an emancipated minor may legally drink alcohol, buy tobacco products, or vote!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
You will need to complete & give the court the following forms:
- Petition – this form will need to be notarized
- Notice of Hearing – this is to set a date for the court to hear your petition
- Decree – this is the court’s decision on your petition, but you must still fill it out
- Certificate of Mailing – this is to make sure that the documents were properly mailed and received
- Affidavit and Waiver of Notice* – these are for if your parent or guardian consents to the emancipation; they will also need to be notarized
- You’ll need a job and source of income
- In addition to being a generally useful tool, creating a monthly budget might support your petition for emancipation, as it shows the judge that you have a financial plan
- Open a bank account with checking and savings accounts
- Consider creating an emergency fund if you haven’t done so already (3 to 8 months worth of your monthly expenses)
- Get a credit card to start building your credit
- You’ll need car insurance if you own a vehicle. If possible, get insurance (health, renters)
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
$193.14 (this covers the cost of notice and publication)
WHAT’S A ‘NEXT FRIEND’ AND WHY DO I NEED ONE?
A next friend may be a friend’s parent with whom you are staying or another adult or relative. There is no special requirement to become a next friend other than being at least 18 years old. Parents/guardians can file for their children/wards as next friends.
Because you are not old enough to file a lawsuit, you need a next friend to file your application. They need to sign and file your petition and attend court with you.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
The Terry West Civil Legal Clinic has created a video which includes additional information about the emancipation process.
WHAT IF I’M EXPERIENCING ABUSE?
If you are experiencing parental abuse, talk to a trusted adult at your school or elsewhere about available options and seek legal assistance if you wish to be emancipated.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I’M EMANCIPATED?
- You’ll be treated as a legal adult
- You can sign contracts, medical forms, etc.
- You can make your own decisions
- You can start a business on your own
- You can rent an apartment
- You can decide what to do with your earnings
- You don’t need your parents to complete a FAFSA form for college
ARE THERE ANY DRAWBACKS TO EMANCIPATION?
- You’ll be legally obligated under contracts
- You’ll most likely lose the right to be covered by your parent’s health insurance
- The process of emancipation can be expensive
- You’ll need to be self-sufficient and live on your own
- The process can take 3 to 4 weeks or longer
Emancipation Instructions and Checklist (PDF document)
Emancipation Sample Packet (PDF document)
Emancipation Fillable Form (Fillable PDF document)
Watch Emancipation: Know Your Rights