When you turn 18, you legally become an adult in Missouri. This means you are old enough to vote, to enter into a legally binding contract, and get a tattoo on your own. However, being an adult also means you are subject to adult criminal penalties, you will be liable for any debt, and your parents are no longer legally required to care for you.
Some teenagers do not want to wait until they turn 18 to become a legal adult. Emancipation is a legal process that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to become legally independent from their parents. Emancipation is not something that should be taken lightly. Anyone who is considering emancipation should carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of what emancipation might mean.
At The Higher Level Legal Law Firm, our goal is to help our clients in finding their way to a more settled and successful life. If you need experienced representation for any family legal issues in the Cass County area, call us today at 816-331-9968.
Emancipation Requirements in Missouri
Emancipation is the legal process of petitioning the court to grant a minor the authority to have some of the same rights and responsibilities of an adult. In order to be granted emancipation by the judge, the individual will have to meet the requirements for emancipation and convince the court that emancipation is justified.
To file for emancipation in Missouri, the petitioner must be a resident of the state.
The eligible ages for emancipation in Missouri are 16 and 17. In most situations, an individual must be 16 or older to be emancipated from their parents. When a person turns 18, there is no need for emancipation because the individual legally becomes an adult at age 18.
Emancipation generally requires living separately and apart from parents. The minor must be capable of supporting themselves financially and managing one's own affairs. Generally, having financial means cannot include an illegal source of income.
Additionally, the parents must generally consent to emancipation, subject to exceptions. If the parents do not consent to emancipation, the individual should contact a family law attorney to find out about exceptions to getting emancipation when the parents do not approve.
Finally, the court will generally consider whether emancipation is the best interests of the child. The court may try alternatives to emancipation before granting a petition if the judge believes it would be a better option. This could include mediation between the parents and the child with a 3rd party mediator to help the family resolve any disputes or seek out agreeable solutions.
Should I get emancipated if I can't get along with my parents?
Not getting along with your parents is not necessarily a reason to become emancipated. Teenagers often clash with their parents on a number of issues. There are other options for teens who do not want to live with their parents anymore, including:
- Legal guardianship,
- Going to live with another relative (grandparents or aunt and uncle),
- Seek help from a public or private agency, or
- Make an agreement with your parents for another living situation.
Rights and Limits of Emancipation in Missouri
After a minor becomes emancipated, they will be legally responsible for their own affairs. However, this does not mean they will get all the rights and privileges of adults who are 18-years-old or older. The limits of an emancipated minor may still include:
- Cannot vote until age 18;
- Cannot buy cigarettes or tobacco products until age 18;
- Cannot buy alcohol until age 21;
- Cannot marry without parental consent until age 18;
- Cannot purchase a firearm until age 18 or 21; and
- Must continue to attend school (generally until age 17 or having successfully completed 16 credits towards graduation).
Emancipation does free up a minor to make a number of important life decisions, which may include:
- Choosing where to live,
- Choosing where to work,
- Entering into contracts,
- Making a will,
- Enroll in college,
- Consent to medical treatment,
- File a lawsuit, and
- Buy or sell property.
Emancipation Through Marriage
A minor may be considered legally emancipated from their parents after marriage. Generally, individuals seeking a marriage license in Missouri must be 18 years of age or older to get married. However, individuals under the age of 18 can get married with parental permission. If the parents give consent to marriage, then the minor may be emancipated upon marriage.
Emancipation Through Military Service
Another option for emancipation is through joining the military. Generally, the age limit for joining the military is 18 years old. However, a 17-year-old can enlist with parental permission. After getting permission from parents to join the military, the minor may be considered emancipated after enlisting with the U.S. military.
Filing for Emancipation in Missouri
If you have any questions about emancipation in Missouri, contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm in Raymore today. The Higher Level Legal Law Firm will let you know your options, advise you of the benefits and drawbacks of emancipation, and represent your interests before the court. Contact us online or by calling (816) 331-9968.