Emancipation of Minors: The Court Procedure

To get an order for emancipation from a court, the minor must file an emancipation petition in the court.


The exact requirements for emancipation vary from state to state. Generally the minor must be of a certain age, generally 16 years or over and a resident of that state. The minor must explain the reasons for seeking emancipation and a notice of the emancipation petition will generally be sent to the parents. The minor must demonstrate ability to look after themselves financially and without any financial support from the state. The court will also look at the maturity level of the minor. In most states the law requires the minor seeking emancipation to be living independent of his/her parents and must be supporting himself/herself prior to applying for emancipation.

Best Interests

The court will look to determine if the emancipation is in the best interest of the minor. In many states, the court can terminate the emancipation if there is a change in the minor’s circumstances post emancipation. In such cases, the parents will once again be responsible for the minor. In Illinois, the court can pass an order for partial emancipation limiting the rights of the emancipated minor.

States with no law on emancipation may still confirm or determine if the minor has been emancipated if the minor files a petition and submits the required information to enable the court to confirm or determine the emancipation. What is in the best interest of the minor will vary from state to state but some common factors considered by the court in deciding the best interest of the minor include:

• Whether the minor is in a position to support himself/herself financially at present and also in the future
• Whether the minor’s existing and future living arrangements
• Whether the minor is in a position to take decision about his or her welfare
• Whether the minor is attending school or has received a diploma
• The minor’s level of maturity

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