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AGE OF MINORITY

EMANCIPATION AND CHILDREN IN CALIFORNIA

Thank you to the State Bar of California which produced the “Kids and the Law” of which this is an extract. For the entire booklet go to: Children’s law

Legally speaking, emancipation is that point in time when parents are no longer responsible for their children, and children no longer have to answer to their parents. (FC §§ 7002, 7120)Once this occurs, parents do not have to give their permission for anything that the minor may wish to do. They also no longer have to provide their child with support or necessities such as food, shelter or medical care. This means that your minor child does not have to be responsible to you and may live wherever he or she wishes to live.In addition, an emancipated minor can make his or her own medical, dental or psychiatric care decisions. An emancipated youth also may, for example, enter into a contract, sue and be sued in his or her own name, make or revoke a will, buy or sell interests in property, and apply for a work permit without parental consent. At the same time, the minor’s parents lose control over his or her earnings. The minor must instead take care of his or her own financial affairs. (FC § 7050) In California, an emancipated minor’s identification card or driver’s license can state his or her emancipated status. (FC § 7140)

MYTH: Some kids believe that they can “divorce” their parents or seek emancipation without their parents’ permission. The truth, however, is that kids cannot unilaterally “divorce” their parents. The emancipation process is very complex and requires, at a minimum, a parent’s consent or acquiescence in order for a court to approve such a process.

In California, emancipation occurs automatically under certain circumstances. For example, as soon as a person turns 18 years of age, he or she legally becomes an adult and is emancipated. (See Age of Majority). When minors get married, they become emancipated from their parents. Emancipation also occurs if a minor is on active duty with the Armed Forces. (FC § 7002(a)(b))

In addition, a minor may become emancipated in California with a petition to the courts. In such instances, the minor (at least 14 years of age) must state that he or she would like to be emancipated and is willing to live separate and apart from his or her parents or guardian. The minor must be able to prove that this decision was made voluntarily and that he or she has parental consent or acquiescence to manage his or her own financial affairs. The minor must explain to the court how much money he or she makes, and how future expenses will be handled, including the cost of rent, clothes, food and entertainment. (FC § 7120)

Before the petition is heard, the minor’s parents, guardian or other person entitled to custody must be notified, unless the minor can show that their address is unknown or that notice cannot be given for some reason. (FC § 7121)

Also, a judge must find that it is in the minor’s best interests to become emancipated. If circumstances change after the emancipation order has been granted, the court has the power to rescind the order and notify the minor’s parents.

Note: Running away from home is not a legitimate way of becoming emancipated. Nor can parents simply abandon their responsibilities by forcing their children out of the home. In such situations, children may acquire the right to determine their place of residence and make certain other decisions without losing their right to parental support. (See Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities.)

 This information is provided for educational purposes only. For more information about divorce and family law in Los Angeles  please visit www.la-familylaw.com