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Marriage Laws U.S. Teen Marriage What is Emancipation?

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Judicial Declaration of Emancipation

Legally, emancipation refers to the "removal of some of the disabilities of minority." What that means is that when a minor becomes emancipated, s/he gets some of the rights of adults. For example, an emancipated minor can sign contracts, choose where s/he wants to live, and enroll him/herself in school.

How do I get emancipated?

There are actually three ways a minor may become emancipated:

Do I need my parents' consent to get emancipated?

Generally, yes. Minors who are not emancipated need parental consent to get married. In addition, minors who wish to marry must obtain the consent of a judge. Likewise, to join the military, a minor needs parental consent. To get emancipated by a judge, a minor must give his/her parent(s) notice of the court hearing, and the parent(s) may go to court to contest the emancipation.

What are the requirements for a judicial declaration of emancipation?

What are the new rights that I get if I become emancipated?

What are the new responsibilities I will have if I get emancipated?

What things won't change when I get emancipated?

There are certain laws that apply to minors even after they get emancipated.

I heard that if a girl has a baby, she is automatically emancipated when she gives birth. Is that true?

Absolutely not! Having a baby does not mean you are automatically emancipated. Any girl who has a baby must still legally live with her parents. In fact, some of the suggestions for new welfare changes include requiring girls who have babies to live at home with their parents in order to be eligible for benefits.

My parents told me they want to get me emancipated. Can they do that?

No. There are parents who would like to have their child emancipated because it means the parents are no longer responsible for providing for the child, and instead, the minor is responsible for him/herself. However, emancipation is meant to be a positive step for a minor, not a way for parents to circumvent their parental responsibilities. There are safeguards in place in Santa Clara County to ensure children are not getting emancipated by their parents.

Once I get emancipated, is it forever?

Not always. The District Attorney's office may petition to have your emancipation rescinded (taken away) if your main source of income is welfare (e.g., TANF). It is possible for the judge to rescind your emancipation on the basis that you are not able to support yourself without public benefits. If the emancipation is rescinded, the District Attorney may try to make your parents pay back the welfare money that was paid to you while you were emancipated.

How can I get help to get emancipated?

Emancipation is a major decision and requires careful thought and planning. If you would like to discuss all of your options, including emancipation, please visit the Child Advocates, Inc.-National Resources.


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