A child becomes emancipated when he/she is no longer living in the parents’ home and has become self-sufficient. In most cases that is a mater of fact, and there is no legal proceeding by which the child applies to become emancipated. There can, however, be more complicated cases.

A child generally will become emancipated upon reaching the age of 18, but the parents’ duty to support the child may continue until the child turns 21 or 22, depending on the circumstances. A child may also become emancipated by getting married, living away from the homes of both parents, serving in the military, or engaging in full-time employment after turning 18. On the other hand, the child will not be considered emancipated for going to boarding school, camp, or college, nor for taking a full-time job during the summer when school is not in session, nor for taking a part-time job, nor for being in the military if he/she is discharged before turning 21.

Traditionally an emancipated minor was one who had left home, usually after turning 18, gotten a job, and was supporting himself/herself. In theory, if could be applied to a younger child also. The idea was to assure certain rights to young people living on their own.

Two Emancipation Cases

A divorced woman once came to my office with a support petition by her daughter, who was pregnant and living away from the parental home. The daughter had applied for welfare,but the Department of Social Services had said that, because she was under the age of 21, she had to seek support from her parents. The father and the mother took the position that were the daughter to return to either of their home, live by their rules, and be a member of the family, they would welcome here with open arms and provide for her. As it was, they both considered her emancipated, and would offer no support. In these circumstances the court agreed, and denied the daughter’s petition.

A man called me with a not so unusual request, but he put a new wrinkle on it. He claimed that his ex-wife was not allowing him to visit with his children, the oldest a teenager, the youngest only 10 years old, and a middle child. As many fathers in his position do, he felt that he should not have to pay child support. His novel approach was that he wanted to emancipate his children to accomplish his goal.

This man wanted to emancipate his children so that he would not have to pay child support. He wanted to abandon his children. No court would allow that.

Call us for full information about emancipation of children. 516 319-2000.