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Emancipated Minor (Monday, March 4, 2013)

 

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What Would You Do With It?

Teenagers want freedom from their parents like the neighborhood dog wants that Buick it chases.  But both beg the same question; what would they do with it even if they got it?

 

Some people wrongly believe that minors are automatically emancipated if they live apart from their parents for a length of time, but that isn’t true.  Minors may be emancipated in Texas if they meet certain requirements, but this is something that MUST be determined in Court.

 

Don’t Call it Emancipation

Texas law doesn’t actually allow a minor to “emancipate;” instead, it allows a minor to “remove the disabilities of minority.”

—See Tex. Fam. Code § 31.001

 

You see, as a minor in Texas, you have many disabilities that adults do not have.  For example, you are not allowed to vote, buy tobacco, make decisions regarding your education, write a Will, and most importantly cannot enter contracts.

 

What Disabilities of Minority Can Be Removed?

The Court can remove your disabilities for a limited or general purpose.  If for a general purpose, then certain educational decisions are transferred to the minor, except as provided by federal law, and you would have the “capacity of an adult, including the capacity to contract.”

—See Tex. Fam. Code § 31.006

 

The capacity to contract is the most important because that is your ability to rent an apartment, buy a car, and open a bank account.  What this DOESN’T do is allow you to buy tobacco, vote, write a Will, or any other action where minimum age is controlled by statute or constitution.

 

How Do I Get My Disabilities of Minority Removed?

A minor can petition the Court if the minor is a Texas resident, is 17 years old (or 16 years old and living separate and apart from the minor’s parents, conservator, or guardian), and is self-supporting and managing the minor’s own financial affairs.

 

Your petition must be verified (signed in front of a Notary) by a parent or appointed guardian or conservator, and must include information regarding the name and residence of minor, parent, guardian, and conservators.

 

Also, your petition must include the reasons that the removal would be in the “best interest of the child” as well as the purposes that the removal are requested (general or limited).  The Court cannot make any decision regarding children unless it is in the child’s best interest, so be prepared to fully articulate why this removal is best.

—See Tex. Fam. Code § 31.002

 

The Hearing

Yes, this is the type of thing in which a hearing is required, but the Court must appoint an Attorney to represent you at this hearing and to represent your interest to the Court.

 

Because this is such a big decision, do not expect for the Court to simply rubber-stamp your request and be prepared to fully articulate why this is in your best interest.  This may sound difficult, but hey, you’re asking to be treated as an adult and being an adult is quite difficult.

 

--Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,

 

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