WHAT IS "EMANCIPATION"?
Emancipation is when a child (a minor) legally gets some of the rights of adults before reaching the age of 18. For example, signing contracts, choosing where to live, and enrolling in school.
HOW DO I GET EMANCIPATED?
There are three ways a child can become emancipated:
- Get married
- Join the military, or
- Go to court and have the judge declare you emancipated ("judicial declaration").
DO I NEED MY PARENTS' CONSENT (PERMISSION) TO GET EMANCIPATED?
If you ask a judge to declare you emancipated, you must give notice to your parents. Your parents can consent to the emancipation or they can go to court to contest the emancipation.
If you are not emancipated, you need your parents’ consent to join the military. If you are not emancipated and you want to get married, you need your parents’ consent and a judge’s consent.
CAN ANY CHILD GET A JUDGE TO DECLARE HIM/HER EMANCIPATED?
No. There are certain requirements:
- You must be 14 years old, or older.
- You must be willing to live apart from your parents with their consent.
- You must be managing your own financial affairs.
- Your income must be from a legal source.
- Emancipation must be in your best interests.
- You should be in school. (The emancipation law does not require that you be in school, but compulsory education laws do. The judge usually wants to see that you are either in school, have already graduated, or have earned a GED).
WHAT RIGHTS DO I GET IF I BECOME EMANCIPATED?
If you are emancipated, you can:
- Live where you want to.
- Sign contracts.
- Keep the money you earn.
- Buy, sell, lease, or give away any interest you have in real or personal property.
- Get a work permit without parental consent.
- Enroll yourself in school.
- Sue someone in your own name.
- Make a valid Will.
- Consent to your own medical, dental, and psychiatric care.
- Stay out as late as you want. (Curfew laws do not apply to emancipated minors.)
WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES WILL I HAVE IF I GET EMANCIPATED?
If you are emancipated, you must:
- Support yourself financially.
- Get your own medical, dental, and automobile insurance.
- Pay your bills.
- Make sure your income is from a legal source.
WHAT THINGS WON'T CHANGE WHEN I GET EMANCIPATED?
Even after you are emancipated:
- You must go to school until you graduate or turn 18.
- You cannot work as many hours as you want. You must still obey child labor laws and follow work permit rules.
- You can't have sex unless you are married and have sex with your spouse.
- You may be tried as an adult if you commit a crime. A judge will decide if you will be tried in Juvenile Court or tried as an adult. Whether or not you are emancipated has no bearing on being tried as an adult.
- You cannot drink alcohol until you turn 21.
- You cannot vote until you are 18.
HOW CAN I GET HELP TO GET EMANCIPATED?
Emancipation is a big decision. Take time to think about it and plan it carefully. If you want to talk about your options, you may contact Probate Department. Probate Court Services is unable to provide legal advice. But they can however, provide you with information about their services. If you have questions about their services, please call (657) 622-6540.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO GETTING EMANCIPATED?
There are 11 steps in the emancipation court process:
- Step 1: Find out if you are eligible for emancipation.
- Step 2: Get the forms you need.
- Step 3: Fill out the forms.
- Step 4: Get the consents you need.
- Step 5: Build your case.
- Step 6: File your court forms.
- Step 7: Get a hearing date.
- Step 8: Serve notice of the hearing.
- Step 9: Probate Court Investigation.
- Step 10: Go to your hearing.
- Step 11: File the signed Declaration of Emancipation.
Find out if you are eligible for emancipation.
Get the forms you need:
If you can’t afford to pay the court fees and costs, fill out these waiver forms, too:
You can download the forms from this site. Just click on the form numbers, above. Or, from the Court's Self-Help Center. You can download them from the forms section of the Judicial Council’s website .
Fill out the forms.
Get the consents you need. You will need your parents to sign the consent form. There may be other people who have to sign the form, too (like, a social worker, probation officer, or legal guardian if you have one.)
Build your case. Give the judge other information, too. This will help the judge to decide if you are ready for emancipation. You can attach the following information to your Petition:
File your court forms.
Get a hearing date. After you take your papers to the clerk for filing, the clerk will ask the judge to sign the Order prescribing Notice on the back of the Petition first. The clerk will tell you when to come back to pick up your papers. Or, you can leave a self-addressed stamped envelope for the clerk to mail your copies.
After the judge signs your papers, the clerk will give you a hearing date and a case number. If you asked for a Fee Waiver (see forms, above), the clerk will also let you know if you qualify. If you did not ask for a Fee Waiver, you have to pay the filing fee. (See Probate Fees in the local fee schedule .)
Your hearing will be in about 10 weeks. The clerk will keep your papers and give you stamped copies.
Serve notice of the hearing. The law says you must notify certain people about the hearing, like your parents, guardian, social worker, and probation officer. If any of these people already signed the consent form, you do not have to serve them notice. If they did not sign the consent form, you must serve them notice of the hearing.
This means someone over 18 – not you – must mail copies of all your court documents to your parents (and guardian, social worker, or probation officer if you have one). The person who mails (serves) the copies must fill out a Proof of Service form. Then, you must file the Proof of Service with the court. The clerk will ask you for 2 copies of the Proof of Service. There is no Proof of Service form for emancipation. But, you can use Judicial Council Proof of Service form FL-335 as an example. Click on the form number to download a copy.
There will be a Probate Court Investigation. A court investigator will contact you to make an appointment to talk to you either at your home or by phone. Then, the investigator writes a report to explain your situation to the judge. The investigator will recommend if the judge should or should not approve your emancipation. The investigator will mail you a copy of the report before your hearing.
Go to your hearing. Look at your filed Petition for the date, time and place of your hearing.
When the judge calls your name, go to the table in the front and tell the judge your name. The judge may ask you questions about why you want to be emancipated and if you understand your rights and responsibilities if you get emancipated. The judge will make a decision based on what you wrote in your petition and the Investigator’s report. If the judge approves your petition, he/she will sign the Declaration of Emancipation. Be sure to get the signed Declaration of Emancipation from the judge's clerk.
File the signed Declaration of Emancipation with the Probate Clerk's office on the first floor. Your emancipation is not “official” unless you file it. Ask for extra, certified copies of the Declaration of Emancipation as needed. Unless you have a Fee Waiver, you have to pay for the certified copies - see the "Records Related Fees" in the local fee schedule. (For more on Fee Waivers, see the Fee Waiver Packet .)
HOW DO I PROVE TO PEOPLE THAT I AM EMANCIPATED?
You can show your certified copy of the Declaration of Emancipation as proof that you are emancipated. Or you can ask the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a California ID card that shows you are emancipated.
To do this, fill out form MC-315 , Emancipated Minor's Application to California Department of Motor Vehicles. Then, take this form along with a certified copy of your Declaration of Emancipation to the DMV.
Absolutely not! Having a baby does not mean you are automatically emancipated. Any girl who has a baby must still legally live with her parents. In fact, some of the new welfare changes include requiring girls who have babies to live at home with their parents in order to be eligible for benefits.
No. Some parents want their teen emancipated because it means the parents are no longer responsible for providing for the teen. The teen would have to take care of him/herself. But, emancipation is meant to be something that helps a child, not a way for parents to get out of their responsibilities.
Not always. The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) may petition to have your emancipation rescinded (canceled). They may do this if your main source of income is Welfare (AFDC). A judge may cancel your emancipation if you cannot support yourself without Welfare.
If the emancipation is canceled, DCSS may try to make your parents pay back the welfare money that was paid to you while you were emancipated.