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What is emancipation of a minor?

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One area of family law that is poorly understood is the emancipation of a minor. Broadly speaking, emancipation is the legal process through which an individual who has not reached the age of majority is able to separate from his or her parents. In doing so, the minor is no longer the responsibility of his or her parents, and they also are not able to lay claim to any of the minor's income.

Emancipation may be sought for a number of reasons, whether because the minor believes that a parent may be abusing their position to use the minor's income, or because of some other behavior by the parent that leads the minor and other individuals concerned for the minor's wellbeing to believe that legal separation for the parent or parents is in the best interest of the minor. For parents, an emancipated minor no longer is entitled to child support, or other forms of care. However, a court will have to look carefully not only at the behavior and maturity of both the parents and the minor, but also consider soberly whether or not the minor is able to support him- or herself.

Illinois maintains its own statutes that deal with emancipation, so these must be considered for those within the sate who wish to pursue it. One of the most complicated aspects of the Illinois law is that is requires that there be no objections from either party for an emancipation to take place. This can be particularly frustrating for minors who wish to be emancipated on account of poor behavior by a parent. It is also worth noting that a only minors at least 16 years of age may be granted an emancipation. This means that, even in a best-case-scenario, the emancipation will only affect less than two years of the minor's life, after the length of the court procedures are taken into account.

If you are considering pursuing an emancipation procedure, it is wise to enlist qualified help to assist you in evaluating the nature of your situation. An experienced family law attorney can help you understand the finer points of both the law and your own experience to determine if emancipation is right for you, and help protect your rights if you decide to pursue it.

Source: Findlaw, "Emancipation of Minors Basics," accessed Jan. 04, 2017

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