Divorce is a word that gets thrown a lot between married adults. While it is mostly seen as the termination of a marriage, and divorce laws could vary from country to country (the only two countries in the world that do not allow divorce are the Vatican and the Philippines). However, another form of divorce could be performed not between married adults, but between a child and his parents. This divorce from parents is more commonly known as emancipation.
Emancipation is the legal process wherein a child wants to and is granted independence from his parents. The legal age when emancipation could be granted varies, but the most common age range among the United States of America is 16-18 years old. While a child may think about getting emancipated from his parents, he has to keep in mind that the court will rarely grant the request and could even rescind it at any time.
What It Means to Be Emancipated
Since the child is divorcing from his parents and is thus living independently, he is considered a legal adult and must take on the responsibilities of such (even if they are minor). This means that he must be able to do the following:
• Find a place to live and pay all the expenses that come with it (such rent, water, electricity)
• Provide himself with his own clothes and food
• Have a stable source of income (however, child labor laws still apply)
• Pay for all his medical expenses
• Still go to school – the court will expect a child under 18 to go to school and finish at least High School. This means that they may also have to pay their own tuition fees.
In the United States, if the child is a minor, he is still prohibited from voting, drinking, or having sex, despite being emancipated.
Reasons for Emancipation
There are many reasons that a child can seek emancipation although the court reserves the right to conduct a thorough investigation of the child’s home life and the environment. Some of the reasons that are given are:
• If the child is legally married. Emancipation, in this case, could be given with the parents’ consent.
• The child has a stable means of income, is financially independent, and wants to enjoy the rights of being so.
• The parents of the child have been proven to be physically or sexually abusive.
• The parents or legal guardians of the child are found to be stealing money from the child.
• The environment of the child’s home is toxic to the child.
While many teenagers may consider emancipation, many of them do not understand the amount of responsibilities that come with being considered a legal adult. At the court hearing, they must not only prove that their parents cannot sustain them but also show that they can sustain themselves. Emancipation could be quickly granted, however, if the parents of the child give their consent. The Court of Appeals is also open if either party does not agree to the proposed solution.