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My teen is seeking emancipation: What’s that?

Imagine you're sitting at the dinner table with your 16-year-old daughter. She's telling you that she wants to get a nose piercing, and a tattoo of a dragon that covers the entire back of her body. You tell her that she can't have the piercing or the tattoo, under no circumstances, but she resists.

The next thing you know, your teen says she's going to file a legal claim for emancipation. She says she's going to liberate herself from your parental control. Is emancipation real? Can your 16-year-old gain the legal rights and independence of being an adult?

What's emancipation and how does it work?

Parents are legally responsible for their kids. They have to educate them, clothe them, feed them and act in the best interest of their children until the child has reached what's called "the age of majority." This is usually the age of 18, when your child officially becomes an adult under the law.

However, your minor might be able to petition the court for emancipation. A petition for emancipation asks the court to decide whether the teen can enter adulthood and independence early, before the age of 18.

Once emancipated, your teen will assume the adult responsibility to care for him- or herself. He or she will not be under your care anymore. Your child will also receive the rights, duties and privileges of adulthood upon emancipation.

Will my child succeed in getting emancipation?

One of the most important considerations of the court in deciding whether to grant emancipation will relate to your child's financial independence. If your child has a job and is earning a sufficient and stable income, there's a higher chance the court will grant the petition. The court will also take into consideration your minor child's best interests and maturity level. The court will probably not grant emancipation just because your child wants to get a new nose ring and a giant tattoo: Many other considerations and factors will come into play.

Have more questions about minor emancipation?

A Colorado family law attorney can tell you more about minor emancipation. Your lawyer can also advocate in court to try and prevent your teen from getting approval for his or her emancipation petition. Alternatively, if you're a teen seeking emancipation for legitimate reasons, a family law attorney can help you.

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