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I Want to Be Emancipated


    This article explains the process of getting emancipated by a court. To learn what it means to be emancipated, read the article What is Emancipation?

    Parents have a duty to care for and support their children. Parents also have the right to make decisions for their minor children. Minors can’t enter into contracts, sue in court, or set up their own homes. Parents can tell their minor child’s employer to give them the child’s paycheck. These rights and duties continue until a child turns 18 years old. But they change when a child is emancipated.

    Guardians and custodians also have a duty to care for and support the children in their custody. If you have a guardian or custodian, wherever it says parents in this article, assume it means your guardian or custodian instead or as well.

    Things to Think About Before You File

    To start an emancipation proceeding, you must file a Petition for Emancipation. You can use the Do-It-Yourself Emancipation to create your petition. You will need to know some things before you start.

    The court will order the emancipation if it 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

    Is there a family court case you need to tell the court about?

    You will need to know if you or your family has ever had a family court case. If so, you will need to know:

    • The court where it was filed

    • The case number

    • The judge who heard it

    • If the case is still pending

    A case is still pending if it is open and active. If there has been a judgment or a final order in the case, it is probably not still pending. If there are hearings or court dates coming up, the case is pending.

    What will your parents do?

    When you file your petition, you have to notify your parents. Think about what they will do when they get the petition. They can agree to the emancipation, or they can object to it.

    If you think your parents may agree with the emancipation, you can ask them to sign the waiver and consent form. Each parent needs to sign his or her own form. You will get a Waiver/Consent for each parent if you use our Do-It-Yourself Emancipation to create your petition. 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.

    If your parents object to the emancipation, the court won’t emancipate you unless you can prove your parents haven’t been supporting you. If so, the court will emancipate you if you meet the other requirements.

    Can you manage your financial affairs?

    You will need to tell the court you can manage your own financial affairs. Explain to the court how you do this now or what you will do when you’re emancipated. The court will want to know who you work for and if you know how to handle your money. This might include:

    • Having a job

    • Having a bank account

    • Having money saved

    • Paying bills yourself

    • Showing a budget or monthly living expenses

    Benefits, such as General Assistance or SNAP-EBT, are not part of supporting yourself. You need something more.

    Can you manage your personal and social affairs?

    You will need to tell the court you can manage your personal and social affairs. Explain how you make mature decisions and how you’ve developed community support. This might include:

    • Having safe and stable housing

    • Having a network of friends and/or family who can give you emotional support

    • Belonging to a church or community group where you meet with people on a regular basis

    • Showing you ‘re taking responsibility for your education

    • Showing you have a plan for your own medical care

    Show you’re taking responsibility for your education by telling the court if you’re in school or how you plan to continue your education. If you’re in school, you may want to include attendance records and report cards from your school to show you are responsible.

    Have you read the laws?

    You will need to read and understand the laws about emancipation. They are MCL 722.1 through 722.6. The petition you will file includes a statement that you have read these. Be sure you understand them before you file anything with the court.

    Get a Certified Copy of Your Birth Certificate

    You need a certified copy of your birth certificate to file with the petition.

    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 an application to be processed by the Office of Vital Records. You can request a rush, which will take about two weeks, but it will cost more money.

    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.

    Get an Affidavit

    You will also need an affidavit. An affidavit is a written statement. It is made under oath, which means the person making it swears it is true. The affidavit must say emancipation is the best option for you.

    The affidavit must be from someone who knows you and is a:

    • Physician or nurse

    • Minister, pastor, priest, rabbi or other clergy member

    • Psychologist

    • Family therapist

    • Certified social worker, social worker, or social work technician

    • School administrator, school counselor, or teacher

    • Law enforcement officer or

    • Regulated child care provider

    This means you need help from an adult you are close to, whose job is one of those on the list. Talk to that person about why you want to be emancipated. Ask the person if he or she is willing to fill out the form and testify at a hearing.

    The affidavit is part of the petition. After you finish the Do-It-Yourself Emancipation, print it and give it to the person doing the affidavit. That person will need to fill out the form and sign that part of the form in front of a notary public.

    Filing Your Petition

    File your petition in the family division of the circuit court in the county where you live. If this is not the same county your parents live in, you may need to file the petition in the county your parents live in instead. Call the court clerk’s office to ask because different courts have different rules for this. You can find contact information for the court on the right side of this page.

    You will have to pay a filing fee of $150 when you file the petition. You can ask for a fee waiver if you can’t afford the filing fee. Read the article Fee Waivers in Court Cases to learn when and how to ask for this. You can use the Do-It-Yourself Fee Waiver to complete this form.

    Include evidence with your petition

    Include any evidence you have with your petition. Evidence is what you show a court to prove your case. This might include pay stubs or receipts for essentials you paid for yourself. It might also include certificates of accomplishment or other documents that show you have made mature decisions.

    Evidence also includes testimony from witnesses. You can ask witnesses to come to court and testify. Your parents will get to ask them questions, too. Any witnesses you ask to speak on your behalf may write a letter or sign an affidavit, but it is best if they appear in court as well.

    To learn more about how to file your petition, see the checklist in the Emancipation – Becoming an Adult Before Age 18 toolkit.

    After You File Your Petition

    After you file your petition, you will need to serve a copy of the petition and a summons on your parents. You must serve a Notice of Hearing on the person who signed the affidavit. To learn more about how to serve these documents, see the checklist in the Emancipation – Becoming an Adult Before Age 18 toolkit.

    After you file your petition, the court has several options. It may:

    • Investigate your petition

    • Appoint a lawyer for you

    • Appoint a lawyer for your parents if they oppose the petition and can’t afford one

    • Dismiss your petition if the custodial parent does not consent and does support you

    • Have a hearing

    If the court investigates your petition, a court employee will look into what you said in it. This person may contact you, your parents, and the person who made the affidavit. He or she might talk to other people, too.

    If you can’t afford a lawyer and the court decides you should have one, it might appoint one to represent you. It might also appoint a lawyer for your parents.

    The court could also find your parent doesn’t agree with the emancipation and does support you. If it does, it may dismiss your petition without having a hearing.

    If the court doesn’t dismiss the petition, the court will have a hearing. The hearing will be before a judge or a referee. You can’t have a jury. You can ask for a judge instead of a referee. If you want a judge, tell the clerk when you file the petition.

    Going to Court

    When people represent themselves in court, they are expected to follow the same rules lawyers do.

    Attend the hearing and be prepared to present your case to the judge or referee. Bring all your evidence to court with you. Be ready to talk about the things you wrote in your petition. The hearing will take place at the time and place on the notice.

    Dress neatly. Arrive 10 or 15 minutes before your hearing is scheduled. It’s important to show up on time. Let the court know you’re there by telling the clerk or officer sitting by the judge’s bench, but do not interrupt the current proceeding.

    Be prepared to spend most of the morning or afternoon in court. Bring any witnesses and your evidence with you. Remember to speak clearly, answer any questions the judge or referee asks, and don’t interrupt the judge, referee, or anyone else.

    The judge or referee may hear your entire case at the first hearing. The judge or referee could also schedule another hearing date to finish your case.

    Your Parents’ Responsibilities If You’re Emancipated

    If you are emancipated, your parents are still legally obligated to support you. They are not responsible for any debts you incur as an emancipated minor.

    Ending the Emancipation

    You or your parents can ask the court to rescind or cancel the emancipation order. A court will cancel the order if:

    • You have no way to support yourself;

    • You and your parents agree the order should be canceled; OR

    • You have moved back in with your parents.

    To end an emancipation, you or your parent can file a Petition to Rescind Order of Emancipation with the court. Read the article Ending Emancipation to learn more.