It is not unusual for a teenager to not get along with his parents. However, in some cases, teenagers may be justified in their desire to be free from their parents' guardianship, such as if the parents are incompetent or extremely neglectful. In this instance a minor can emancipate himself from his parents. To do this legally, the minor must be 16 years of age or older and receive a court order from a judge.
Obtain a lawyer. Although you can defend yourself, it's better to have assistance from someone who specialises in family disputes. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the juvenile court or probate court will find you one at no charge.
Call the court and ask to speak with the intake counsellor in charge of emancipation. Ask the intake counsellor about the application process. He will explain exactly what you need to do and what the process involves.
File a "Petition for Emancipation" with the juvenile court in your area. Some states charge a fee to file this form. For instance, the cost in Oregon is £97 statewide. The cost may be more or less in your county. This fee is non-refundable, even if the judge denies your request. When you file and pay the fee, the court will give you a preliminary hearing date.
Notify your parents that you are requesting emancipation. Serve them with a summons -- obtained from the court clerk -- to inform them of your petition and the date they must appear in court.
Attend a preliminary hearing which usually happens within 10 days after filing your petition. During this hearing, the judge will listen to your case and may order various actions such as a temporary custody decree. The judge will advise you of your rights and those of an emancipated minor.
Attend a final hearing. This generally occurs no later than 60 days after you file your petition. The judge will decide whether to grant your request. You or your parents can cancel this hearing, but if you do, the orders from the preliminary hearing will continue.
- Some states, such as Massachusetts, do not have a formal procedure for emancipation. You can still have a judge hear your case, but courts in these states will not have a regular set of guidelines to follow.
- Although you may consider yourself mature enough to handle being on your own, a judge may not see it that way. Be prepared to show how you will provide yourself with necessities, such as shelter and food. Also, your situation should be dire and the reasons for your request must be extreme, valid and verifiable. Otherwise, a judge may deny your request.
- The results of your emancipation request will depend on the judge. Emancipation is not easy to achieve. Some judges may involve the Department of Social Services in your case. If this happens, you may be moved to a foster home instead of receiving emancipation.
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