St. Louis Divorce Lawyers

Emancipation 101: Six Most Asked Questions About Minor Emancipation

Our family law attorneys at The Betz Law Firm can help you file an emancipation petition and build a strong case.

At what age is someone officially considered an independent adult in Missouri? If you ask Missourians this question, most of them will likely say 18 years of age. But did you know Missouri minors don’t have to wait until they turn 18 to be legally recognized as an independent adult? That’s right; a Missouri minor can be declared an adult through emancipation.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what emancipation is in more detail. And answer some frequently asked questions about emancipation.

What is Emancipation of Minors?

By definition, emancipation is nothing more than a process of freeing minors from the control and care of their guardians or parents. Emancipation gives a minor of 16 to 17 years the legal privileges of an adult. The teenager also becomes entirely in charge of their own affairs.

What Are the Requirements for Emancipation?

There are specific requirements that must be met before judicial emancipation is granted. For starters, the minor must be at least 16 years old and a Missouri resident. Secondly, the minor must prove they can financially sustain themselves while living separately from their parents.
When determining whether a minor is financially independent, the court may ask the minor to provide work records, bank statements, or a lease letter from their landlord.

What Are the Rights of an Emancipated Minor?

An emancipated minor gets the freedom to do what other kids their age can’t. These include:

  • Living on their own
  • Entering into legally binding contracts
  • Getting married
  • Keeping their hard-earned cash
  • Conducting business
  • Suing or being sued

Do Emancipated Minors Have Limitations?

The law precludes emancipated minors from undertaking specific activities until they attain the age of majority. This includes:

  • Buying alcohol or cigarettes
  • Voting
  • Purchasing a firearm
  • Dropping out of school before completing at least 16 credits

How Can You Initiate the Emancipation Process?

You can initiate the process by filing an emancipation petition with the family division court. The court will then set a hearing within 30 days and send you and your parent or guardian a notice to appear for the emancipation hearing.

What Happens During the Emancipation Hearing?

During the hearing, the judge will allow you and your parent or guardian to be heard. If your parents or guardians object to your emancipation, they’ll be required to prove you are not capable of living alone and demonstrate how living under their care is in your best interest.

If your attorney convinces the judge to side with you, you’ll be issued a declaration of emancipation—which you’ll use to prove you’re a legal adult.

Can Emancipation Agreement Be Modified?

Yes, the judge may modify an emancipation agreement if they are convinced it’s in the minor’s best interest.

Don’t Go it Alone!

The emancipation process sounds simple in theory, but, in reality, it’s a time-consuming and confusing process. Emancipation laws are also complicated. You will need a family attorney to navigate the intricacies of emancipation and convince the court your case has merit.

Are you a minor aged 16 or 17 and want to be emancipated? Our family law attorneys at The Betz Law Firm can help you file an emancipation petition and build a strong case. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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