Children are not technically allowed to divorce their parents, but under certain conditions, a child who is between 14 to 18 years old, may request permission to become legally emancipated from their parents. An emancipated minor is a child who is under 18 years of age and chooses to become fully responsible for their own medical care, educational decisions and living arrangements.
Parents usually have custody of minor children, meaning they determine where they live, what school they attend and control medical decisions. An emancipated minor controls all of these decisions on their own. Once a minor turns 18, marries or joins the military, he or she is automatically emancipated. In some states, a minor can simply declare emancipation. In California, however, a minor over the age of 14 must specifically petition a judge for emancipation.
When judges receive a petition for emancipation, they have the choice to grant the petition, deny the petition or schedule a hearing on the matter. In order to grant emancipation to a minor, a judge must have the permission of the parents. If the parents object to the process, they can contest the emancipation by appearing before the judge overseeing the case.
When a minor is granted emancipation, that child also becomes responsible for:
- Completing high school or getting their certification of high school equivalency
- Managing finances
- Acquiring and paying for their own health insurance
- Having a legal source of income
- Making medical, dental and psychiatric decisions
Whenever an issue regarding the welfare of a minor child comes before the court, the judge will try to rule according to the best interest of the child. For example, a judge might order mediation for a minor child who wishes to live independently from their parents to resolved the issues leading up to the emancipation petition. A judge can also revoke an order of emancipation if circumstances change, if any of the statements made during the hearing are not true, or if the minor child becomes incapable of supporting themselves. If an order is revoked, the court notifies the parents directly.
If you are between the ages of 14 and 18 years old and want to live independently of your parents, or you are the parent of a minor child desiring to be emancipated, contact a family law attorney. Steven M. Bishop is an attorney who knows the law and advocates for the best interest of children. Call the San Diego office at 619-299-9780 or contact us online.