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Emancipation Of Minors: Routes And Limitations

Dolores Rice

Emancipation is a legal process that allows minors to enjoy some legal rights usually reserved for adults. Below is an overview of the various ways a minor can get emancipated, and the limitations of emancipation.


There are various ways of getting emancipated, but the following are the most common ones.


­In many areas, you will be considered emancipated if you have gotten married. In most states, you must attain the age of 18 to get married without your parents' consent. However, you may get married at a younger age if your parents agree to the marriage. In such a case, you also become emancipated after your marriage.

Military Duty

The U.S military accepts applicants from the age of 17 if the minors have parental consent. Applicants that get selected to join the military then become emancipated.

Court Permission

A court application is one of the most common ways of becoming emancipated. In this case, you file your emancipation petition with the court, and the judge decides whether to grant or deny it. You can increase your chances of success if you can prove that you are financially independent. This may mean proving that you have your own living arrangements and a source of income to support yourself.


Just because you are emancipated, it doesn't mean that you are free to engage in all adult activities. Below are some of the activities you might not be allowed to engage in even after your emancipation.

  • Quitting School – The government requires all minors to attend school, and the requirement includes even those who have become emancipated.
  • Drinking Alcohol – The minimum legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21, with very few exceptions. The limit even applies to emancipated minors, so don't expect to buy alcohol or drink alcohol after your emancipation.
  • Voting – Voting is another activity that is restricted to adults, with the minimum voting age set at 18 years. Again, emancipation doesn't allow you to vote as long as you are still under the minimum age.
  • Driving - The minimum driving age varies by state; it can be as low as 14 or as high as 17 in some states. You won't be allowed to drive even if you are emancipated as long as you are still a minor.

The above are just a few limitations; there are others depending on federal and state laws.

Emancipation is possible, but it doesn't mean that the emancipated minor will enjoy the rights of an adult. Consult a family attorney to help you with any legal queries you might have on emancipation.


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