Growing up comes with a lot of transitions. Teenagers often find themselves at odds with their parents. But sometimes that conflict is more than just growing up. Sometimes an emancipation is the only way for a teenager to get on with life.
Most teenagers rely on their parents for everything from the house they live in to a shoulder to cry on. And while parents often create headaches for teens growing up and taking on more responsibility, those hurdles can usually be overcome. When they can’t, legal emancipation can be an option.
What Does It Mean to Be an Emancipated Minor?
Before you jump to sign an emancipation petition, make sure you know what you are getting into. An emancipated minor is in charge of all his own affairs. That means you will be responsible for:
- Education expenses
- Health insurance
- Driver’s license
- Public assistance applications
- Contracts (with cell phone companies or landlords, for example)
- Lawsuits (meaning you can sue or be sued in your own name)
That is a lot for most teens to handle. But sometimes, a teenager has it together more than her parent or has been doing it on her own for a while. When that’s true, emancipation may be an option.
Petition for Emancipation of a Minor
No one can ask the court for an emancipation order until he is 16 years old. Once a teenager is 16, a family law attorney can help him file a petition with the family court. If you plan on filing be prepared to show:
- That you are a Michigan resident
- That you are employed
- That you have a place to live separate from your parents
- That you have the ability to manage your financial affairs (pay your bills)
- That you have the ability to manage your personal and social affairs (like housing)
You will also be required to produce a certified copy of your birth certificate, which you can get from the county clerk where you were born.
Affidavit of Professional
Before the court will grant you an emancipation, you will need to show that some professional agrees with your decision. The law allows you to file an affidavit signed by one of the following professionals in support of your petition:
- Member of the clergy.
- Family therapist.
- Certified social worker.
- Social worker.
- Social work technician.
- School administrator.
- School counselor.
- Law enforcement officer.
- Duly regulated child care provider.
The professional will need to be familiar with your circumstances and be willing to testify that she believes emancipation is in your best interest, given those circumstances.
Will My Parents Know?
Once your petition for emancipation is filed, a copy of the petition and a summons to appear at the hearing will be taken to each of your parents by a process server. They have the legal right to attend the hearing.
If your parent does not agree that you should be emancipated and is still providing you with financial support, your petition will be denied. It’s a good idea to speak to your parents before you make up your mind to find out whether they will support your petition.
What If Things Change?
After the court enters an Order of Emancipation, a teenager is considered an adult for all laws that do not include a specific age cut off (like drinking or serving in the military). But if things change and living on your own becomes too much for you, you or your parent can ask the court to revoke the emancipation order. Your emancipation order can be revoked if:
- It was obtained by fraud (meaning you or your parent lied in the original petition);
- You have become indigent and can’t support yourself;
- You and your parent agree that the order should be removed; or
- You have been reunited with your family in a way that makes the emancipation order unnecessary or inconsistent.
With all those steps, seeking an emancipation shouldn’t be the first choice for any teenager. But in those rare cases when it is appropriate, your first step is to talk to a family law attorney. Lisa J. Schmidt with Schmidt Law Services, PLLC, in Ferndale, Michigan, handles all kinds of non-traditional family law issues. Contact Schmidt Law Services to schedule a free consultation. She will meet with you and help you decide if emancipation is right for you.