Emancipation
Emancipation matters are processed at the Family Law Division located on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse.

What is emancipation?

Emancipated allows a youth to be freed from the custody and control of their parents and to have many of the rights and responsibilities of an adult.

How do I get emancipated?

There are three ways a minor may become emancipated: 1) Get married with parental consent and permission from the court; 2) Join the military; or 3) Go to court and have the judge declare you emancipated.

What are the requirements for a judicial declaration of emancipation?

  • You must be at least fourteen years old.

  • You must be living apart from your parents with their consent.

  • You must be managing your finances and have a legal source of income.

  • The judge must find that emancipation is in your best interest.

  • The judge also wants to see that you are in school or have a GED.

  • If you are a dependent or ward of the Juvenile Court you must file your petition in the Juvenile Court.

What are the new rights that I get if I become emancipated?

  • Live where you choose.

  • Sign binding contracts.

  • File legal actions.

  • Keep your own earning

  • Get a work permit without parental consent.

  • Enroll yourself in school.

  • Consent to your own medical, dental, and psychiatric care.

  • Stay out as later as you want.

What are the new responsibilities I will have if I get emancipated?

  • Support yourself financially.

  • Get your own medical insurance.

  • Pay all of your bills.

  • Keep your own earning

  • Be financially and legally responsible for your own actions.

What things won't change when I get emancipated?

  • You must go to school until you graduate or turn eighteen

  • You cannot work as many hours as you want.

  • You cannot get married without the consent of your parents.

  • You cannot have sex - statutory rape laws make it illegal for anyone to have sex with a minor.

  • You cannot drink alcohol until you turn twenty-one.

  • You cannot vote until you turn eighteen.

Can my parents get me emancipated?

No, emancipation is meant to be a positive step for a minor, not a way for parents to get out of their parental responsibilities

Can I get help with emancipation?

If you would like to discuss all of your options, including emancipation, you can call Legal Services for Children.

Legal Services for Children

1254 Market Street, Third Floor San Francisco, CA 94102; phone: (415) 863-3762.

Legal Services for Children

In filling out the forms you must:

  • Print or type ALL information requested on the forms.

  • Sign and date the petition.

  • Include a statement explaining your living situation, why you want to be emancipated, and how you are supporting yourself. If you have children, tell how you are supporting them. You could also include letters from your employer and your landlord.

  • If you do not know where your parents or guardians live, you must tell the court when you last saw your parents and what efforts you have made to find out where your parents live.

  • If you know where your parents live, but they refuse to sign the consent, you must give notice of the hearing to your parents.

  • If you know where your parents live, but you do not wish to notify one or both of them about this petition, you must state ALL your reasons and request the court waive notification to your parents. The hearing date is obtained at the time your petition is filed.

FIlling Emancipation Paperwork:

After you have completed the forms and all necessary attachments and obtained your parents signatures (if possible), take the original plus three copies and the attachments to the civil clerk's office or you may submit by mail and must include a self addressed stamped envelope for return of your conformed copies. A filing fee of $320.00 is required at the time of filing or an application for the fee waiver. Click here for more information about the fee waiver.

Are there alternative options to emancipation?

Emancipation is only one of several alternatives available to you if you feel you cannot live with your parents. You may want to consider other options such as:

  • Family counseling or mediation service between you and your parents.

  • Living with another responsible adult (aunt, uncle, grandparent, or family friend).

  • Establishing a formal guardianship through the court.

  • Seeking assistance from public and private agencies.

  • An informal agreement with your parents allowing you to live outside your home.

Declaration of Emancipation by a Judge

The Court will notify the District Attorney's Office of the existence of the petition. The District Attorney's Office will check to see if your parents are collecting support for you. If so, they will oppose the petition. If not, the judge will:

  • Grant your petition; or

  • Deny your petition.

Declaration of Emancipation granted without a hearing

If the judge finds that all notice and consent requirements have been met or waived and that emancipation is not contrary to your best interests, the judge may grant your petition prior to your hearing date without an appearance. You can check the probate notes to obtain more information regarding your case.

The judge may, at the time of hearing, request that the parties undergo court mediation prior to making a decision on the petition. At that time, your case will be continued to another date and you will be ordered to go set a mediation date at the Civil Division.

What to do if the judge grants the Petition for Emancipation

If the judge grants your petition for emancipation without a hearing, you will receive your copies of the filed documents via mail. You must submit the Declaration of Emancipation for signature. If the judge grants your petition for emancipation after a hearing is held, you will receive your copies of the filed documents at that time. The clerk will file the original Declaration of Emancipation and return your copies to you to keep as proof of your emancipation. You will need to put these papers in a safe place; you may need to show these copies to employers, landlords, doctors, school officials, or others who would otherwise require parental consent.

If you want to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about your emancipation, complete an Emancipation Minor's Application to California Department of Motor Vehicles (MC-315) form and take it to the DMV along with a certified copy of the Declaration of Emancipation.

Is emancipation permanent?

Emancipation is usually permanent. However, if there are statements on your petition that are not true, or if you become unable to support yourself, the court may set aside the Declaration of Emancipation.

To view a listing of Judicial Council forms, click HERE

© 2009 Superior Court of California, County of Tuolumne