Emancipation means the termination of the rights of parents to custody, control, services, and earnings of a minor. Emancipation can occur in two instances: By operation of law or pursuant to a petition filed by the minor with the juvenile court.
Emancipation occurs by operation of law under any of the following instances:
- When a minor is validly married;
- When a person reaches the age of 18 years old; or
- During the period in which the minor is on active duty with the armed forces of the United States
On the other hand, emancipation pursuant to a petition involves a much more lengthy process. First, the minor must file a petition for emancipation in the juvenile court in the county where the minor resides. After such, a copy of the petition and summons to appear at the hearing shall be served on the minor’s parents or guardians, if applicable. A hearing will then occur before a judge.
The court will issue an emancipation order if it determines that emancipation is in the best interest of the minor and the minor establishes all of the following:
- That the minor’s parent or guardian does not object to the petition; or if the parent or guardian object to the petition, that the best interest of the child is served by allowing the emancipation to occur by court order;
- The minor is a resident of Georgia;
- The minor has demonstrated the ability to manage his or her financial affairs, including proof of employment or other means of support. “Other means of support” does not include general assistance or aid received from means-tested public assistance programs;
- The minor has the ability to manage his or her personal and social affairs, including but not limited to, proof of housing; and
- The minor understands his or her rights and responsibilities as an emancipated minor.
The minor must establish the above by a preponderance of evidence in order to have an emancipation order granted by the court.
Consequences of Emancipation
The parents or guardian of a minor emancipated by court order are not liable for any debts incurred by the minor during the period of emancipation. However, there still is a duty to provide support for a minor child until an emancipation order is granted.
In terms of the minor, whether the emancipation shall occur by law or by court order, the minor shall be considered to have the rights and responsibilities of an adult, except for those specific constitutional and statutory age requirements such as voting, use of alcoholic beverages, and other health and safety regulations relevant because of his or her age.
If you are a minor contemplating emancipation or if you are a parent with a child who is thinking of this option, please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. Our dedicated team understands that emancipation can have a profound effect on all parties involved. We will work with you to help ensure that all of your questions are adequately answered and you are represented to the fullest.