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Common Questions about Emancipation

Contents

    These are common questions about emancipation.

    Questions about Emancipation

    What is emancipation?

    Emancipation is releasing a minor from the care and control of the minor’s parents, guardians, or custodians. It gives the minor many of an adult’s rights and responsibilities. Emancipation can happen by operation of law or by a court order. Read the article What is Emancipation? to learn more.

    What are an emancipated minor’s rights?

    An emancipated minor has many of an adult’s rights and responsibilities. He or she can:

    • Live on his or her own

    • Keep the money he or she earns

    • Register for school

    • Get married

    • Make a will

    • Authorize his or her own medical, dental, and mental health care

    • Enter contracts, including leases

    • Conduct business

    • Sue someone or be sued by someone

    • Apply for medical assistance, such as Medicaid

    • Apply for other welfare, such as cash or food assistance

    An emancipated minor still can’t vote or consume alcohol.

    Is emancipation right for me?

    Emancipation is a serious decision. If you are emancipated, you must act like an adult. You will have many of an adult’s rights and responsibilities. For example, if you’re emancipated you can live on your own. You can register yourself for school. You must also support yourself and pay your debts.

    If you can’t handle these decisions, emancipation may not be right for you.

    How do I start the emancipation process?

    The emancipation process starts when you file a petition for emancipation in the family division of the circuit court where you live. You can use our Do-It-Yourself Emancipation to create your petition. Read the checklist at the end of this toolkit to understand the entire process. To learn more about getting emancipated, read the article I Want to Be Emancipated.

    Do I have to live in Michigan to get emancipated?

    Yes. You must be a resident of the State of Michigan to be emancipated in Michigan. File your petition for emancipation in the family division of the circuit court where you live.

    Some courts consider the county your parents, guardian, or custodian live in to be your residence until you are emancipated. Call the court clerk to see if this is true in your county.

    How old do I have to be to file a petition for emancipation?

    You must be 16 or 17 years old to file a petition for emancipation.

    How much does it cost to get emancipated?

    You must pay a filing fee when you file your petition. It is $175. There might also be fees for certified copies of the judgment or the cost of the investigation the court may do. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you can ask the court to waive your fees. The form you can use for this is the Do-It-Yourself Fee Waiver. Your case will not start until you pay the filing fee or the court waives the fee.

    To learn more about how to get emancipated, read the article I Want to Be Emancipated.

    What do I need to file with my petition for emancipation?

    With your petition for emancipation, you must submit:

    • A $175 filing fee or approved fee waiver

    • A certified copy of your birth certificate

    • A signed affidavit from a physician, nurse, member of the clergy, psychologist, family therapist, certified social worker, school administrator, school counselor, teacher, law enforcement officer, or regulated child provider testifying that emancipation is in your best interest

    Some courts have other forms they want you to file with your petition. Call the court clerk’s office to find out if you need to fill out an extra form.

     

    Where can I get a certified copy of my birth certificate?

    If you were born in Michigan, you may be able to order a certified copy of your birth certificate from the vital records office of the county where you were born. In some counties you need photo ID to order a certified copy of your birth certificate. Other counties will accept other forms of ID. Check your county’s vital records office’s website or call to see what kind of ID you need. In most counties, you can order your copy in person, by mail, by fax or online. The cost of ordering a certified copy of your birth certificate varies from county to county, from $10 per copy to more than $50.

    You can also order a certified copy of your birth certificate from the Michigan Office of Vital Records. You can order your copy online, by mail, or in person at the Office of Vital Records in Lansing. You can learn more about this on the Office of Vital Records website. Ordering your birth certificate online through the Office of Vital Records will cost at least $50. Ordering it through the mail or in person costs $34, and there may be shipping fees.

    It takes about five weeks for the Office of Vital Records to process an application by mail. You can request a rush, which will take about two weeks, but it will cost more money. Online orders are processed more quickly.

    If you order your copy online, you will need a credit or debit card to pay the fees. If you order it by mail, you can pay with a money order or certified check. Some counties might also take personal checks. If you order it in person, you can also pay with cash.

    I wasn’t born in Michigan. Can I still file a petition for emancipation here?

    Yes. As long as you are a resident of the State of Michigan, you can file a petition for emancipation in the family division of the circuit court in the county where you currently live. While some jurisdictions require you to live in your county for one year prior to filing a petition, other courts do not. You should call your local court to determine the proper residency requirements.

    I am pregnant or have a child. Am I automatically emancipated?

    No. You are automatically emancipated only if:

    • You are legally married;

    • You turn 18;

    • You are on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States; or

    • You are temporarily in the custody of law enforcement because you need medical care and your parent can’t be located.

    Otherwise, you must file a petition for emancipation.

    What do I need to do after I file my petition for emancipation?

    You must send or give a copy of your petition for emancipation, summons, and notice of hearing to your parents, guardians, or custodians. You must also send or give a notice of hearing to the person who signed the affidavit on your petition for emancipation. Make sure to ask your court clerk if they send these papers or if you need to send them on your own.

    You do not need to serve any parent, guardian, or custodian who signed the waiver and consent form.

    You must also read and understand the law of emancipation in Michigan, attend your emancipation hearing, and be prepared to testify if required by the judge.

    How do I serve my petition for emancipation and notice of hearing?

    Any parent, guardian, or custodian who did not sign the waiver and consent form needs to be served a copy of the petition and copies of any documents that support it.

    Any adult or emancipated minor can serve the petition. Your parents, guardian or custodian can be served by personally giving them the petition or by mailing it to them. If it is mailed, it is a good idea to send it by certified or registered mail, and to request a return receipt.

    If the clerk gave you a hearing date when you filed the petition, send a summons with each petition for a parent, guardian, or custodian. Send a notice of hearing with the petition for the person who did the affidavit for you.

    Some courts will serve the petition and summons for you. If so, you may be responsible for the cost of serving. Ask the clerk’s office if they serve the petition for you.

    What does the judge or referee have to decide at my emancipation hearing?

    The judge will order the emancipation if he or she decides it’s in your best interest. This may happen if:

    • Your parents don’t object OR

    • If a parent objects, that parent is not financially supporting you

    AND you:

    • Can manage your own financial affairs AND

    • Can manage your personal and social affairs AND

    • Understand your responsibilities as an emancipated person.

    How long does it take to become emancipated?

    The emancipation timeline varies from court to court. You can generally expect a hearing date 4-6 weeks after your file your first petition for emancipation.

    What if my parents don’t want me to be emancipated?

    If your parents don’t want you to be emancipated, you won’t be emancipated unless you can prove to the court they do not financially support you.

    What if my parents agree to my emancipation?

    You can ask each parent, guardian, or custodian who agrees to your emancipation to sign a Waiver/Consent form. You will get a Waiver/Consent for each parent, guardian, or custodian when you use our Do-It-Yourself Emancipation. The form can be signed and filed with the court anytime during the process: when you file the petition, before the hearing, or at the hearing.

    Is emancipation forever?

    Usually yes. But, if you can’t support yourself anymore, you may be able to end emancipation. You may also end it if it no longer makes sense because your parents are supporting you or you move back in with them.

    To end an emancipation, file a Petition to Rescind Order of Emancipation in the court where you were emancipated.

    What if one of my parents is dead?

    If one of your parents has died, put that parent’s name in the appropriate line in your petition. Put “Dead” or “Deceased” in the address space for that parent.

    The court may want a certified copy of the parent’s death certificate. You can get a certified copy of a death certificate from the vital records office of the county where your parent died. In most counties, you can order a copy in person, by mail, by fax, or online. The cost of ordering a certified copy of a death certificate varies from county to county, from $10 per copy to more than $50.

    You can also order a certified copy of a death certificate from the Michigan Office of Vital Records. You can order a copy online, by mail, or in person at the Office of Vital Records in Lansing. You can learn more about this on the Office of Vital Records website. Ordering a death certificate online through the Office of Vital Records will cost at least $50. Ordering it through the mail or in person costs $34, and there may be shipping fees.  

    What if the court rejects my petition for emancipation?

    You can appeal the court’s decision if you disagree with it. So can your parents. Appeals must be filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals. Appealing a court’s decision is complicated. You may want to hire a lawyer to help you. You can use the “Find a Lawyer” section of this page to look for legal help in your area.

    To learn more about filing an appeal, read the Michigan Court of Appeals manual on the Michigan One Court of Justice website.

    Can I hire a lawyer to help me with my emancipation?

    You can hire a lawyer to help you with your emancipation.

    If you need a lawyer and are low-income, you may qualify for free legal help. Whether you are low-income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to look for legal help in your area.

    The court may also appoint a lawyer for you.

    What happens to the court order after I’m emancipated?

    The original court order stays in the court’s file. You can get certified copies of the order from the court. You will probably have to pay for the certified copies. In most courts it costs $10 – $15, but if you get more than one copy at a time the extra ones may be much less.

    How do I show people I’m emancipated?

    You can show a certified copy of the court order to prove you’re emancipated.

    What if I don’t think my child should be emancipated?

    You can object to the petition. You can object by going to the hearing on the petition. If there is a court investigation, you can also let the investigator know you object to the emancipation.

    If you financially support your child, he or she will not be emancipated. If your child can prove he or she financially supports him or herself, the court may emancipate him or her.

    What if I support my child’s emancipation?

    You can sign a Waiver/Consent form. Your child will get a Waiver/Consent for you if he or she uses our Do-It-Yourself Emancipation. The form can be signed and filed with the court anytime during the process: when the petition is filed, after you are served the petition, before the hearing, or at the hearing.