Emancipation refers to a legal process that frees a child from parental custody. Emancipation terminates the legal authority or control that a parent(s)/ has over their child before they attain majority age.
Who Can Be Emancipated?
For a minor to be free from his or her parent(s)'s custody, he or she must be at least 16 years old. Emancipation also requires the minor child to meet any one of the following requirements:
- Reside away from his or her parents and earn a legal income that covers his or her basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
- Be married
- Have to be enrolled in the armed forces of the U.S.
- The court has to rule that emancipation serves the best interests of the minor child, his or her parents, or the minor child's child.
Procedure For Becoming Emancipated
According to Tennessee law, the chancery court may grant a minor's emancipation from his or her parents. The minor child or the minor child's parents can initiate the emancipation process.
The party who initiates the process is required to file a petition for emancipation with the court. A lawyer may also file this form on behalf of their client. If the minor child needs legal representation to defend his or herself, or start the emancipation process, and cannot afford one, the probate court or juvenile court may appoint a lawyer the minor child.
When the process has been started, a hearing before a judge will be scheduled. The judge is the only legal authority that can authorize emancipation.
What Are the Rights of An Emancipated Teenager?
An emancipated teenager has certain legal rights and responsibilities that other children of the same age do not have. The following are some of the rights and responsibilities of an emancipated teenager:
- The right to live away from home while paying rent and other costs associated with the new residence.
- The right to seek medical care without consulting a guardian (the minor child is responsible for footing the medical bills).
- The right to sign contracts -- and the responsibility for any obligations laid out in the contract.
- The right to sue and be sued.
- The right to purchase and sell property.
- The right to a marriage license, driver's license or to enroll in the armed services.
- The right to enroll in a learning institution.
If you are considering emancipation, it is important to contact an attorney. An expert in the area of family law can help you to understand your rights, and how to navigate the path to emancipation – should it serve in the best interests of you and your family.