Emancipation typically occurs when a minor reaches the age of majority, which in Pennsylvania is 18, and is then independent of his or her parents. Emancipation can also occur before a minor reaches the age of 18, where a minor utilizes the legal system to become legally responsible for him or herself. In fact, either the minor or the parents may petition the court for the minor to be emancipated. However, parents may not seek to have their minor child declared emancipated in order to escape their duty to provide for the minor child.
The process of emancipation can begin through the actions of either the parents or the minor. There are several different ways for that to take place.
Marriage is one way for a minor to become emancipated without resorting to the court system. In Pennsylvania, if a minor, aged 16 to 18, gets married, he or she is automatically emancipated. However, Pennsylvania law requires a minor to have parental permission to get married. So if a minor wnats to become emancipated through marriage, that individual will still need parental consent.
In Pennsylvania, if a minor’s marriage is terminated through divorce, that
A minor can also become emancipated by joining the United States Armed Forces. By law, the minimum age for enlisting in the military is 17. Also, like marriage, enlisting in the military requires parental consent. So, again, emancipation through military service will not be an option for those that are unable to get their parents’ consent.
Unlike some states, Pennsylvania does not have a specific emancipation of minors statute. Some states specifically set forth the requirements for being declared emancipated and the standard that the judge will use to make his or her determination. Currently, Pennsylvania courts will view the individual circumstances of each emancipation request and determine whether the minor is able to support him or herself, or whether the individual will require parental support.
For the most part, there is not one specific factor that will affect the judge’s decision of whether to grant or deny a minor’s emancipation. However, the judge will most likely consider a number of factors when rendering his or her decision, including:
While the idea of emancipation seems like an ideal situation for many teenagers, it can be fraught with difficulties. Living alone and providing for yourself can be daunting from some adults, let alone a teenager. Carefully evaluate your individual situation before embarking on the process to become emancipated. In addition, the emancipation process, particularly if you are seeking a court order, can be expensive. A court order will likely require you to pay attorney’s fees as well as the filing fee. While it is possible to return to your unemancipated status, the process will require time, money and effort that you will not get back.
A minor’s emancipation means a great deal of change for the minor. Once emancipated, the minor must provide for him or herself. The minor must have a job, or he/she will not be able to meet the support requirement. An emancipated minor must pay for his or her own food, housing, education and medical care. Essentially, an emancipated minor must not rely on his or her parents for anything.
Once a minor is emancipated, he or she may:
Once a minor becomes emancipated, the minor’s parents are no longer responsible for the minor. The parents do not need to provide money, shelter, employment, education or medical care.
In some cases, a court may grant a minor an implied partial emancipation. In an implied partial emancipation, the minor is only emancipated for certain purposes but not for others. For example, the court may grant the minor an implied partial emancipation for medical issues when the minor is pregnant, but still ensure that the minor’s parents are responsible for the other aspects of his or her life. In another common example, a minor may become emancipated so he or she is eligible to receive a benefit from the government, but will remain unemancipated in all other aspects of their life.
Even when a minor is emancipated, most states still will not allow a minor to quit school. Federal law requires minors to attend school until they are sixteen, and even when a minor is emancipated, he/she cannot quit school before age sixteen.
In some situations, emancipation is a method for allowing a minor to attend a different school district. For example, if a minor’s parents reside in a school district that does not provide sufficient programs for the minor or is simply not providing the right education opportunity, then the minor may seek emancipation in order to live on alone or with another adult in a different school district.
Typically, a parent is responsible for the acts of their children, and a parent can, at times, be sued for the child’s actions. However, once a minor is emancipated, the parents are no longer responsible for the minor’s actions. If the minor acts wrongfully or negligently, they can be sued individually, rather than through his or her parents.
In addition, an emancipated minor is able to enter into legal contracts, and those contracts are enforceable against the emancipated minor. Generally, however, minors cannot enter into contracts, and if they do, they cannot be legally held to the terms of the contract.
Emancipation is a drastic choice and is not right for every situation. If you are considering emancipation, you may wish to review some additional options, including:
A Fellheimer & Eichen family law attorney can answer your questions about emancipation and guide you through the legal process.