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
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
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.