Emancipation of minors is a legal mechanism by which a minor is freed from control by their parents or guardians, and the parents or guardians are freed from any and all responsibility toward the child. Until an emancipation is granted by a court, a minor is still subject to the rules of their parents or guardians.
In most countries of the world, adolescents below the legal age of majority (adulthood) may be emancipated in some manner: through marriage, attaining economic self-sufficiency, obtaining an educational degree or diploma, or participating in a form of military service.
Emancipation in the United States
People are minors, and therefore under the control of their parents or legal guardians, until they attain the age of majority, at which point they become adults. In most states this is either 18 years old, or requires the person be either both 18 and out of high school or at least 20 years old. However, in special circumstances, a minor can be freed from control by their guardian before turning 18.
The exact laws and protocols for obtaining emancipation vary from state to state. In most states, the minor must file a petition with the family court in the applicable jurisdiction, formally requesting emancipation and citing reasons why it is in their best interest to be emancipated. The minor must prove financial self-sufficiency. In some states, free legal aid is available to minors seeking emancipation, through children's law centers. This can be a valuable resource for minors trying to create a convincing emancipation petition. Students are able to stay with a guardian if necessary.
What an emancipated minor is legally able to do depends heavily on state law. Many states, for example New York, grant emancipated minors many additional rights over unemancipated minors.
Emancipations are not easily granted because of the subjectivity and narrowness of the definition of "best interest." Some are minors who have been victims of abuse. In most cases, the state's department of child services will be notified and the child placed in foster care. Others are minors who are seeking emancipation for reasons such as being dissatisfied with their parents' or guardians' rules. In those cases, the emancipation will most likely be denied and the minor will be sent back home with the parent or guardian.