What is Legal Emancipation of a Minor?

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In a minority of cases, individuals may wish to be deemed as emancipated to remove the limitations a minor endures in the State of Florida. Under Florida law, an individual is noted as a minor until they reach the age of 18, or become married, however, there are certain steps you may take to remove this limitation and be treated as a legal adult. If you or a child in your custody is wishing to become emancipated, contact an Orlando Child Custody Attorney to discuss the process and options available to you.

The emancipation of a minor is governed under Florida Statute 743.015. The law provides an avenue for courts to remove the limitations of a minor and provide the child with the rights of an adult in certain situations. First, the process must begin with a Petition for Emancipation of a Minor. The petition may only be filed by the child’s, parent, guardian, or a guardian ad litem; the child alone may not petition the court for emancipation, as they do not have the capacity as a child to seek relief from the court. A guardian ad litem will always be involved in some capacity of these proceedings, because even if not filed by a guardian ad litem, they will be appointed to represent the interest of the child. Further, the child wishing to become emancipated must be at least 16 years of age. Finally, if the petition is filed by a guardian ad litem, the parents of the child will need to be served, or if a single parent is petitioning for the emancipation, the respective parent must still be served with the petition.

The petition itself has certain elements that must be met and are governed by Florida Statute. The petition must contain these elements:

“(a) The name, address, residence, and date of birth of the minor.

(b) The name, address, and current location of each of the minor’s parents, if known.

(c) The name, date of birth, custody, and location of any children born to the minor.

(d) A statement of the minor’s character, habits, education, income, and mental capacity for business, and an explanation of how the needs of the minor with respect to food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and other necessities will be met.

(e) Whether the minor is a party to or the subject of a pending judicial proceeding in this state or any other jurisdiction, or the subject of a judicial order of any description issued in connection with such pending judicial proceeding.

(f) A statement of the reason why the court should remove the disabilities of nonage.”

After filing of the petition, and proper service has been obtained, the court will set a hearing on the matter. At this hearing, the court will consider the elements presented in the petition to determine if it is in the child’s best interest to be deemed emancipated. The factors that hold the most weight with the court typically involve the financial ability of the child to provide and support themselves on their own absent their parent’s or outside aid. The court will also look into the ability and maturity of the minor to handle their own affairs. If the court finds it to be in the best interest of the child to be emancipated, the court will give “the minor the status of an adult for purposes of all criminal and civil laws of the state, and shall authorize the minor thereafter to exercise all of the rights and responsibilities of persons who are 18 years of age or older.” This order also relieves the parents of any child support obligations and removes benefits given by the Department of Children and Families.

If you or a child in your custody is wishing to seek out a court order deeming them to be legally emancipated, contact an Orlando Child Custody Attorney. We will be able to discuss the emancipation process as well as the effects an emancipation has on the child for their future.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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