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Emancipation is a way in which a minor can be legally recognized as an independent adult. Many refer to emancipation as a “divorce from parents.” Emancipation essentially gives minors the legal right to take full responsibility for their own welfare and decisions. A minor who is looking to become emancipated will face several legal obstacles before a court can find them legally emancipated.

In New York State, a parent is obligated to financially support their child until they turn 21, or until the child becomes emancipated. In order for a court to decide whether you are legally responsible enough to be deemed an independent adult, you must bring evidence supporting such claim to a judge. A minor must be able to show that they have the mental capacity and maturity to understand the consequences of being responsible for their own actions. A child who is under 21 will generally be emancipated if the child:

  • Is married
  • Is in the military
  • Finished 4 years of college
  • Is 18 years old and working full time
  • Has permanently left home and ended the relationship with both parents through no fault of the parent

A minor may also make a formal request to the court to be deemed emancipated. In order for a New York court to grant a minor’s request for emancipation, the minor must be at least 16, living separately from their parents, paying for all living expenses, and must show that they are able to manage their own financial affairs. The minor will be required to bring forth any evidence to prove to the court that emancipation is the best option for them. Evidence may include pay stubs, utility bills, a signed lease, and an employment contract.

Can A Parent Request Their Child’s Emancipation?

Sometimes, a parent may petition the court to declare a child emancipated. The most common reason for a parent to petition for their child’s emancipation is to terminate the parent’s child support obligations. Child support is paid to a custodial parent to provide support with bills and other expenditures for the necessity of the child. If you believe that you are paying child support for a child that is completely independent, you may petition the court to modify the child support order. Some parents worry that their child support is not used in a way to benefit the child, but is used by the other parent for their own enjoyment. Children that are grown, have their own place to live and can financially support themselves, no longer need the assistance of child support, and the non-custodial parent’s child support obligations will no longer be required.

What If I’m Declared Emancipated, But Can No Longer Support Myself?

If you have been declared emancipated by the court, but you lose your ability to support yourself, have been convicted of crime, or have lied to the court about your age or school enrollment in order to receive your emancipation status, you may lose your emancipation status. If a child is under the age of 21 and has lost their emancipation status, the court will require the parent to regain custody and full control of that child. Due to the parental obligations under New York State law lasting until the child turns 21, a parent will be required to continue support of their child, even if they had previously been declared legally emancipated, until the child turns 21.

Emancipation comes with great responsibilities and liabilities, as you will be seen, and treated, as a legal adult. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact the experienced family law attorneys at The Law Office of Larry McCord and Associates. Call (631) 643-3084 or fill out our contact form.

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