Becoming an adult is a milestone all teenagers eagerly anticipate, some sooner than others. For those seeking legal status as an adult, prior to the age of 18, there are specific guidelines which can be followed to ensure you are provided the legal status to make your own life choices and decisions without the input of your parents.
Emancipation is the legal process by which a teenager can earn adult status before the age of 18. While legal emancipation is not recognized in every state, most states will allow emancipation if, as a teenager, specific criteria can be met and proofed up. Of these criteria, it is important to note that simply moving out of your parent’s home does not provide you with automatic emancipation status. Emancipation, again, is a legal process with a different interpretation among each states. Therefore, understanding your rights in the statein which you reside, is important.
Before filing for legal emancipation, your first step is to prove your capability of maintaining financial independence. Courts look favorably upon those teenagers who are employed fulltime and have a stable source of income. Additionally, financial independence also requires proof of stable and permanent place to live.
A key aspect of emancipation, which is commonly misunderstood among teenagers, is the ability to vote and consume, purchase or possess alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, in most states, obtaining emancipation status does not permit the teenager to vote or possess, consume or purchase alcohol prior to the standard legal age of the state.
One unfortunate aspect of emancipation is the release of responsibility of your parents. Upon approval by the court, your parents will no longer carry any financial or legal obligation for your health, welfare or safety. While this may sound exciting, initially, the disadvantage lies in the moments when your lifestyle may become unstable or you find you are in need of assistance, your parents, following your emancipation, are under no obligation to provide the assistance needed and can not be mandated by a court to do so. However, without emancipation, and with parental consent, residing outside of your parent’s home is legal. To your benefit, without emancipation and when considering this alternative, your parents will continue to hold responsibility for your actions, health and welfare and will continue to be required to provide the necessary care should an uneventful occasion arise. With emancipation, again, they are no longer responsible for your welfare, health or safety.
As states, once emancipated, your parents are no longer in control of your life. However, should your independent status change, and your parents permit you to return home as their dependent, you legally lose your classification as an emancipated teenager on a permanent basis. So, once emancipated, consider all options carefully.
To begin the emancipation process, your first step is to secure financial independence and move out of your parent’s home. You must be sure to document you are receiving no financial assistance from your parents. Simply supplying or paying for your vehicle is enough evidence to support your inability to obtain emancipation status by a court of law. In addition to financial independence, you must demonstrate to the court that you are capable of controlling your own actions and do not require supervision and direction from an adult. Once financially independent, with stable living arrangements, consult an attorney who specializes in emancipation for assistance with beginning the legal process. For a list of attorney’s, visit www.lawyers.com.
In summary, while emancipation is a great avenue for acquiring legal status as an independent adult, before the age of 18, it can also create great hardship. As a teenager, should you find your relationship with your parents is under a strain, consideration should first be given to moving into another residence on a temporary basis and working to heal the relationship with your parents over time. With this method, you maintain your legal rights as a minor which may be in your better interest than obtaining emancipation rights as an adult prematurely. However, in cases where obtaining emancipation legal status is inevitable, locating stable employment, maintaining financial independence and portraying a mature and responsible attitude will be your first steps in securing approval through the legal system.