Becoming Emancipated in Texas: A How To Guide for Minors

Becoming Emancipated in Texas: A How To Guide for Minors

I think it’s fair to say that many of us wanted to venture out on our own two feet when we were teenagers. For most of us, that thought was a response to a curfew that we didn’t agree with or a reaction to the normal, everyday stressors brought about by being a teen. For some teenagers the desire to become emancipated is based on a desire to remove oneself from a hostile or dangerous situation at home brought about by their parents.

When a child’s caregivers are actually the ones that bring trouble into the child’s life rather than protect the child from the trouble, that is a recipe for disaster. Protecting their child’s safety is job number one for any parent. In certain situations a child can pursue emancipation from their parents. The Texas Family Code does allow for this sort of separation but it is crucial to understand that if you are a minor in Texas and you are seeking emancipation there are risks associated with making this attempt.

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to share the information on this subject with you all today. With that said, let’s discuss the reasons why a minor may be emancipated from their parents in Texas, how a person can go about becoming emancipated and the risks that a minor will encounter along the way.

If a minor wins emancipation what exactly does this mean?

When a minor petitions a Texas family law court for emancipation and is successful, the minor has the ability to do things such as enter into contracts and becoming legally responsible for their own finances and other decisions made in society. Whereas before, a minor’s parent could enter into contracts on their behalf an emancipated minor is treated like an adult in this regard. However, the minor still is not able to vote, purchase cigarettes or alcohol.

Once emancipation is granted by a court, the relationship between the minor and their parents/conservators ceases to be. The normal duties associated with being a parent to a minor child: providing food, clothing, shelter, educational opportunities through high school, etc. are no longer in place. A key right that parents have in Texas is the right to manage the financial and legal matters for their children. As stated earlier in this blog post that right goes away as well and is left to the newly emancipated minor to manage. If a parent and emancipated minor choose to continue a relationship whereby the parent provides support in some unofficial capacity that is obviously fine. However, a parent whose child is emancipated has no legal obligation to do so at that point.

In what situations is emancipation allowed in Texas?

It is understandable that the State of Texas does not want to encourage the ability of a child to become responsible for their own affairs without good reason. As a result, there are three scenarios that a minor can petition a court for emancipation and be successful in that attempt.

First and foremost, if a minor has a valid marriage certificate in hand and presents that to a judge they are automatically emancipated. However, in order to have gotten married in the first place if a child is younger than 18 he or she must have first obtained the consent of a parent via an affidavit. So the parent would have in essence already consented to the emancipation of their minor child. For those wondering the youngest a person can enter into marriage in Texas is at age 14.

Military service is the basis for emancipation scenario number two. Once admitted to the service the minor is automatically emancipated from their parents. As with minor-marriage, there are age limits and parental consent laws in place that must be dealt with before becoming emancipated through military service. Again we see that a parent must consent to their minor child entering military service. In so doing an effective consent to emancipation is given.

Finally, we encounter the third scenario where minor emancipation is realistic in Texas. For most people who have ever considered the possibility of this subject, this is the one that is most widely thought of. Here, a minor who is aged 16 or 17 may seek emancipation from their parents if they are living separately from their parents or other legal guardians and are already managing their own financial and legal affairs independently.

A court will not automatically grant a petition from a minor child without legal proceedings, however. The parents from whom emancipation is sought must be provided notice of their child’s attempt to become emancipated and have an opportunity to present evidence to a judge as to why the child should not become emancipated or how he or she does not meet the burden of having lived independently and managed their own financial affairs. A judge will make a determination as to whether or not it is in the best interests of the minor child to become emancipated from their parent. A judge will consider the family situation from which the child is seeking emancipation as well as the ability of the minor to provide for him or herself once emancipated.

What are some risks associated with emancipation in Texas?

First and foremost there are financial concerns for a minor seeking emancipation to consider. It is likely that any child support ordered by a court will cease so money that you indirectly received to support your livelihood will cease to be upon becoming emancipated. Another financial consideration is the cost of hiring an attorney. It is not advisable to attempt an emancipation suit without being represented due to the difficult nature of achieving the end goal. Spending thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees before a person turns eighteen may not be the best investment.

Emancipation is tough for families, it goes without saying. The relationship a minor has with their parents can be damaged or even destroyed in the event that the emancipation occurs. Minor is the legal term for the person seeking emancipation but they are children in a practical sense. Children typically aren’t able to enter into contracts or initiate legal proceedings because it’s believed that they are not able to make decisions that are in their best interests when compared to an adult. If a child seeking emancipation is successful and then has a change of heart it may be too late to repair the former parent-child relationship.

Questions on minor emancipation in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

Thank you for the opportunity to share this information on emancipation with you all. There certainly are situations where emancipation is a good and legitimate goal to have. If you have questions on this subject or any other in the field of family law please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our attorneys represent clients across southeast Texas and are available six days a week for consultations that are free of charge.

Categories: Emancipation

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