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What happens if your child seeks emancipation?

Teenagers are already navigating complex social interactions in school, preparing for college or adulthood and a mess of hormones. Now imagine throwing into that stew of chaos, a divorce. Most teenagers may react with risky choices or anti-social behavior but a few may act with more drastic measures. Emancipation is a legal process by which minors gain legal personality which allows them to act on their own behalf. This article will explore the method by which that is accomplished and how it affects your parental rights.

Emancipation allows your child to gain legal adulthood that means they can sign documents, like permission slips, enter into contracts, like a lease, and act on their own. It severs parental control. It essentially gives the child full legal rights as an adult.

How does a child accomplish this? There are two preliminary requirements. First, the child must be old enough. The age of emancipation depends on the state. Second, the parents must be given notice. The parents may object to the proceeding. The legal effect of that objection depends on the state, in Illinois it ends the emancipation proceeding and the child is left with no recourse.

Once the proceeding begins the court will only consider what is in the best interests of the child. Generally, the court will consider these six factors:

  • If the child is sufficiently mature to function as an adult.
  • If the child is in school or graduated.
  • Whether or not the child has adequate living arrangements.
  • Whether or not the child can financially support him or herself.
  • If the child suffers from abuse at the parents' home.
  • If the child is a girl and pregnant, the court will consider if she is capable of caring for the baby on her own.

If you are considering divorce then you may want to speak to an attorney. Divorce involves more than you and your spouse, it involves every person in your life from friends to children. Keep an open and honest communication with your child; this is often the best way to ensure that they don't feel lost through the process.

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