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Emancipation

 

What is Emancipation?

Most minors, juveniles between the ages of 8 and 18, are under the control of their parents, stepparents or guardian. The parent is responsible for the minor. A minor 16 years or older can request that the court order that he or she be responsible for him/herself. This process is called emancipation. If the court agrees, the minor is emancipated. The minor then has the ability to do some things he/she couldn't do before. However, the emanicapted minor also has certain responsibilities minors usually do not have since their parents or guardians no longer are responsible for the minor.

What is the court process?

  • Complete emancipation paperwork and file it with the court clerk
  • Pay filing fees and process service fees
  • Send a notice to parents/guardians and the District Attorney's office

What documentation is needed?

  • Current school records
  • Work Records (paycheck stubs, letters from employers)
  • Apartment lease or letter from your landlord
  • Budgets showing your income and expenses

What standards will the court require for Emancipation? 

Home: the minor must be living apart from parents or legal guardian.  Parents or guardian should agree to the minor living away from home.

Work: the minor must show that he/she has a job that pays enough to live by showing payroll receipts, or other proof of employment.  It helps if the minor has had a job for at least 60-90 days. The court may permit a responsible adult over the age of 18, such as a brother, sister, aunt or uncle to prove they are assisting the minor by contributing to his/her support. The court may also consider other sources of income such as Social Security Child's benefits, insurance proceeds or an inheritance.

Income: the minor must show the court that he/she can live, get around, eat and clothe him/herself. Some examples are having a checking or saving account, paying rent and utilities, having a credit card and making payments on time.

What about conflicts with parents?

Young people often have conflicts and disagreements with their parents, but if a minor thinks his/her problem cannot be resolved and has tried every option, emancipation might be a solution. This is a serious undertaking, and the court will look carefully at each petition. The judge considers whether this emancipation is in the minor's "best interest".

What are the rights/responsibilities of an emancipated minor?

  • minor may enter into contracts such as rental agreements, loans and credit agreements
  • minor can sue or be sued because in the eyes of the law, the minor is an adult
  • minor may go to the doctor of his/her choice and parents will not have to sign for the minor 

What things DO NOT change for an emanicpated minor?

  • minor cannot buy liquor, beer or wine until the age of 21
  • minor cannot work as a dealer in a casino until the age of 21
  • minor cannot get married without parental consent 
  • minor cannot drop out of school unless 18 years of age or, if under 18, only with written permission from the school board to withdraw
  • if minor commits a crime he/she will be initially treated as a juvenile, unless charged with murder or attempted murder. If that is the case, he/she will be treated as an adult. If the crime is serious, and the court believes he/she cannot be helped by the juvenile system, the minor may be certified for trial as an adult. The same rules apply to emancipated minors and other juveniles. This will be the judge's decision.

What if the minor no longer wishes to be emancipated? 

Emancipation cannot be cancelled, but it may be declared void if it can be proven that the minor cannot support him/herself, or that he/she gave false information in the petition.

Other things to consider 

Emancipation has advantages and disadvantages. These must be considered when a minor makes a decision. If possible, the minor should discuss emancipation with his/her parents, guardians, probation officer or social worker before filing a petition with the court.

For more information please call Washoe Legal Services at 329-2727.