How Can a California Minor Become Emancipated?

How Can a California Minor Become Emancipated?

Most people associate the term “emancipation” with the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln to free the slaves in 1863. However, more broadly construed, the term actually means “to free from restraint, control, or the power of another.” A minor automatically reaches this stage of life at age 18, but a minor may also become emancipated before that age. When that happens, the minor is free from her parents and gains almost complete control over the decisions in her life; likewise, she gains the responsibility to take care of and provide for herself.

California law
provides three methods through which a minor may become emancipated: getting married, joining the Armed Forces, and obtaining a declaration of emancipation from a judge.


The first way a California minor may become emancipated is by getting married. To use this option, the minor must have permission of her parents as well as a judge.

Armed Forces

A minor may also become emancipated by joining the United States Armed Forces. However, parental consent is again required, and the minor must be accepted into the Armed Forces.

Declaration of Emancipation

If a minor does not have parental consent for either of the first options, she may ask the court to grant her a declaration of emancipation. To be successful in this method, the minor must show the court the following things:

  • she is at least 14 years of age;
  • she can support herself financially;
  • she does not want to live with her parents;
  • her parents do not mind if she lives on her own, and
  • emancipation would be good for her.

Result of Emancipation

An emancipated minor is treated as an adult for almost all purposes, such as the following:

  • Consent to medical care;
  • Enter into contracts, including contracts for insurance;
  • Buy and convey property and stocks;
  • Sue or be sued;
  • Make a will, trust, or gift;
  • Enroll in school or college.

The minor is also financially independent from her parents, so she has full responsibility for supporting herself.

The only thing an emancipated minor cannot do, assuming she was not emancipated as a result of marriage, is get married. An emancipated minor can only get married with the permission of her parents or a judge.

The decision to seek or to contest emancipation brings up many emotions for everyone involved. When you need an attorney who has extensive experience in family law matters, including emancipation, call the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We understand the law underlying emancipation requests, and we’ll help you make the best decision possible. Call today to arrange an appointment: (415) 293-8314.

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