While it is very common for parents and their minor children to have disagreements, it is rare for such disputes to escalate to the point where emancipation makes sense. That being said, minors do have the option to seek emancipation in Texas, as long as the requirements for emancipation are met. If you’re a minor or the parents of a minor seeking emancipation from parents or a legal guardian, we’ll explain how the process works here in Texas.
As with most legal issues, laws vary from state to state when it comes to emancipation. If you are a minor or a parent who wants to learn more about emancipation, be sure to speak with a family law attorney in the state where you reside. He or she can discuss your options and answer questions, like where do you get emancipation papers and how much does emancipation cost?
How old do you have to be to be emancipated?
In order for a minor to file for emancipation—or as it is referred to in Texas, the removal of disabilities of minority—the minor must meet certain age requirements, as well as other conditions. When it comes to age requirements for emancipation, Texas Family Code Section 31.001 is quite clear: A party must be 17 years of age, or at least 16 years of age and living separate and apart from the minor’s parents, managing conservator or guardian.
Meeting the age requirement is but one condition required to qualify for emancipation in Texas. The minor must also be a resident of the state, be able to support themself financially and have the maturity to handle their own financial affairs. You generally won’t see courts agreeing to emancipation if the minor plans to rely on government resources to get by.
Where do you get emancipation papers?
You can apply for a lot of things on the internet but you can’t simply fill out emancipation documents and file for emancipation online. Sure, you may be able to download a Texas emancipation application and fill it out but you still need to petition the court and go before a judge to plead your case.
And the state of Texas is very particular in regard to what information needs to be included in a petition for removal of disabilities of minority. This includes, but is not limited to:
- The name, age and place of residence of the petitioner;
- The name and place of residence of each living parent, guardian (of the person or estate) and/or managing conservator;
- The reasons why removal of disabilities would be in the best interest of the minor; and
- The reasons why the removal of disabilities is being requested.
Getting emancipated is much more complicated than figuring out where do you get emancipation papers. That’s why it’s important to seek advice from a family law attorney when a minor wants to seek emancipation, when a parent wants to prevent a child from getting emancipated or when a parent is a proponent of the emancipation.
How does the emancipation process work in Texas?
The petition for removal of disabilities of minority must be filed in the county where the minor resides. Petitioners must also notify their parents, managing conservator or legal guardian of their intention to seek emancipation, so they have the opportunity to appear at the hearing.
If the minor hasn’t retained an attorney, the court will appoint an amicus attorney or attorney ad litem to represent the minor at the hearing. Again, we highly recommend hiring an attorney to help prepare the petition and get advice about legal options and risks in advance. Going to court without legal representation usually isn’t a good idea.
As explained in Texas Family Code Section 31.002, the petition must also be verified by the parent of the petitioner, unless a managing conservator or guardian has been appointed. If that person in not available to verify the petition (or their whereabouts is unknown), an amicus attorney or ad litem attorney appointed by the court can verify the petition instead.
During the hearing, the court will review the petition, and the minor and other interested parties (parents, guardians, managing conservator) will be allowed to explain their positions and make their wishes known. Based on the petition and information and evidence shared, the court will decide whether to remove disabilities of minority (grant emancipation) or not. Again, the decision will be made based on what is in the best interest of the minor.
How long does the emancipation process take and what does it cost?
As with any legal issue, the duration of the legal process and associated costs will vary based on the complexities of the case. If you want to know how much does emancipation cost and how long the process will take, your attorney is your best resource for answers. They know what challenges you’re facing and can give you an estimate based on similar cases they’ve handled in the past. On average, parties can expect it to take at least six months or more to resolve an emancipation case in Texas because a final trial date would need to be set and busy dockets can push the date out pretty far.
Minors who are concerned about how much does emancipation cost should know that there will very likely be legal expenses they will be responsible for paying in an emancipation case. If your case is highly complex and/or your parents plan to fight you at every turn, your legal fees will be higher, and we’re talking thousands of dollars.
That being said, we know some minors find themselves in desperate situations and may even live with a parent or guardian who poses a danger to them. There are many resources available to minors in these situations. Law enforcement, school guidance counselors and Child Protective Services can help connect minors with the resources they need to get safe and gain access to legal advice.
If you live in the Dallas / Fort Worth area and have questions about emancipation or other family law issues like divorce or sole custody in Texas, we can help. To schedule a confidential case review with a family law attorney at the Sisemore Law Firm, please contact our office at (817) 336-4444 or schedule an appointment online.
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