Emancipation of Children

As children enter their teen years and gain more independence from parents, both may have questions regarding the process, legal requirements and consequences of emancipation.

Emancipation is a legal way for children to become adults before they turn eighteen. Under California law, a minor may be emancipated by a court declaration of emancipation under the Emancipation of Minors Law, which provides that a person is an emancipated minor if they fulfill one of these three categories:

  1. The minor has gotten married with permission from parents and the court.
  2. The minor has joined the armed forces with permission from parents.
  3. The minor has received a declaration of emancipation from a judge.

California law (Family Code § 7000 et seq.) states in order to get a declaration of emancipation from a judge, the minor has to prove ALL of the following criteria. The minor must be at least 14 years old, the minor does not want to live with their parents and the parents do not mind if the minor moves out, the minor can handle their own money, the minor is employed and has a legal way to make money.

Once a minor is emancipated, his or her parents don’t have custody or control of him or her anymore and they can do some things without parental permission, including: get medical care, apply for a work permit, and sign up for school or college. However, an emancipated minor must go to school, must get parental permission before getting married, and will go to juvenile court if they break the law. For more general information on emancipation, look at this pamphlet provided by the Judicial Council of California.

If you or someone you know is considering emancipation, check out this informative legal guide from Legal Services for Children. Legal Services for Children is an organization that takes calls from children and people calling on behalf of children. The person who answers the call cannot represent a child, but they can give the caller advice and referrals.

updated 4/15 rmm