How Does One Become Legally Emancipated?

Legal emancipation is the process of parents or legal guardians relinquishing their rights over a minor child before the time they reach the age of majority, which is 18 in New York. Once a child is emancipated, they are considered an adult, except they cannot vote until they turn 18 nor consume alcohol until they turn 21.

The thought of being emancipated from one’s parents can seem appealing to many teenagers. The growing pains associated with becoming a young adult can often lead to family disputes where the teen’s and parents’ objectives do not coincide with each other.

For instance, parents might have specific rules the teen must follow. However, the teen feels they should be allowed more freedom to do what they want when they want, and to not be held to any specific household rules.

Mother argue with her teenage son

Before you think getting emancipated will solve all the issues with your family, you need to make sure you understand exactly what emancipation entails. Once emancipated, the teen must be able to financially support all aspects of their life, including but not limited to:

• Health Care
• Health Insurance
• Food
• Housing
• Utility Bills
• Clothing

In addition, the teen will have to work full-time to cover these living expenses. They may also still have to attend school.

Most teens do not fully think about the financial impacts emancipation will have on their lives. They can also overlook other legal aspects—like they can be held responsible for any contracts they sign and can be sued.

Emancipation of Minors Process in New York

Unlike other states which have an emancipation of minors process or statute, there is not one in New York. Emancipation typically occurs in New York during another court procedure, such as a child support hearing, custody hearing, or general family court petition.

New York requires parents and legal guardians to support minors until they turn 21. Once they turn 21, New York recognizes they are emancipated. Prior to turning 21, there are some other situations where the state can recognize emancipation, as follows:

• The minor gets legally married.
• The minor joins the military.
• The minor is 18 years or older and works a full-time job.
• The minor has completed a 4-year college degree before their 21st birthday.

Courts, on the other hand, can decide a minor is emancipated if they meet the following conditions and there is a valid reason for emancipation:

• The teen is 16 years or older.
• The teen has a full-time job they work year-round.
• The teen fully supports themselves without any financial support from the parents.
• The parents have no control over the teen.
• The teen is not in the foster care system.
• The teen lives apart from their parents.

programmer working late night at his home

Rights of Emancipated Minors in New York

If the court finds a minor to be emancipated, then the minor has specific legal rights as follows:

• The teen can reside in their own home.
• The teen can go to school in the neighborhood where they live.
• The teen is allowed to keep all of their earnings from their full-time job.
• The teen can request child support from their parents if the parents were responsible for the teen leaving home.
• The teen can apply for and receive certain public assistance benefits.

However, emancipation is not viewed as permanent in New York. If the teen’s situation changes, parents can still be held responsible to support the child until they turn 21.

While emancipation may seem appealing to many teens, it is not a process that should be taken lightly. There are valid reasons why a teen might want to become emancipated.

It is highly recommended to speak with family law attorney Joseph A. Ledwidge PC to get answers to any questions you have and about whether it is possible to seek legal emancipation in New York. Please feel free to call 718-276-6656 for a free phone consultation today!

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