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My Child Wants to Be Emancipated


    This article explains what you can expect if your child wants to be emancipated. 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. 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 are a guardian or custodian, wherever it says parents in this article, assume it means you.

    The Petition for Emancipation

    The process of emancipation starts when a child who is at least 16 years old files a Petition for Emancipation in court. To be emancipated, the child must show the court you agree to the emancipation, OR the child must show the court he or she:

    • Can support him or herself

    • Can manage his or her own financial affairs

    • Can manage his or her own personal and social affairs and

    • Has read and understands the laws about emancipation

    The laws about emancipation are MCL 722.1 through 722.6.

    The Affidavit

    The petition must include an affidavit from an adult. An affidavit is a written statement. It is made under oath. The affidavit must say emancipation is in your child’s best interest. It must be from someone your child is close to 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

    The person who makes the affidavit can come to the hearing and testify. Or, he or she can waive the right to get any notice of the hearing.

    When the Court gets the Petition

    After your child files the petition, the court has several options. It may:

    • Investigate the petition

    • Appoint a lawyer for your child

    • Appoint a lawyer for you if you oppose the petition and can’t afford one

    • Dismiss the petition if you do not consent and do support the child, or

    • Have a hearing

    If the court investigates the petition, a court employee will look into what your child said in it. This person may contact you, your child, 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 child.

    The court could also find you don’t agree with the emancipation and you support your child. If it does, it may dismiss the 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. Your child can ask for a judge instead of a referee. There is no right to a jury trial in an emancipation hearing.

    Your Options

    After the minor files the petition, he or she must serve a copy on you with a summons. This will tell you when the hearing will be. You can

    • Object to or oppose the petition, or

    • Agree with the petition

    If you agree with the emancipation, you can sign the waiver and consent form. Your child got waiver and consent forms if he or she used our Do-It-Yourself Emancipation to create the petition. The form can be signed and filed with the court anytime during the process. If you sign the form, you will not get any more notices about the case.

    If you don’t go to the hearing about the emancipation, you lose the right to object to it.

    If you object to or oppose the petition, you can have a lawyer represent you.

    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 any evidence to court you would like the judge to consider. Be ready to talk about why you object to the petition. The hearing will be at the time and place on the notice.

    Dress neatly. Arrive 10 or 15 minutes before the 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 the entire case at the first hearing. The judge or referee could also schedule another hearing date to finish your case.

    If Your Child is Emancipated

    If your child is emancipated, you are still legally obligated to support him or her. You are not responsible for any debts your child incurs as an emancipated minor.

    If your child is emancipated, he or she will be able to:

    • 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 general assistance or SNAP benefits

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

    Ending the Emancipation

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

    • The child has no way to support him or herself;

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

    • Your child has moved back in with you.

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