Emancipation of Minors
Authored By: Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.
EMANCIPATION IN GEORGIA
What does emancipation mean?
For many purposes, an emancipated minor is considered an adult. An emancipated minor is no longer under the care, custody or control of a parent. Emancipation allows a minor to make medical, financial and housing decisions. An emancipated minor can do many things without his or her parent's consent, such as sign leases, apply for public benefits, register for school, and apply for a driver's license. Emancipation also means that the minor's parents are no longer obligated to provide financial support. Under most circumstances, emancipation means that a parent is no longer required to pay court-ordered child support.
What are the ways to become emancipated?
There are four (4) ways to become emancipated under Georgia law:
- When a minor is legally married, the minor is automatically considered emancipated.
- When a minor turn 18 years of age, the minor is automatically considered emancipated.
- When a minor is on active duty in the U.S. military, the minor is automatically considered emancipated
- A minor can file a petition in the Juvenile Court asking for a court order stating that he or she is emancipated.
Are there rights that a court-emancipated minor does not have?
An emancipated minor does not have the right to vote, purchase alcohol, or do other things that the law limits to older people for health and safety reasons.
Who can be emancipated by a Juvenile Court Order?
- Minors who are at least 16 years old and less than 18 years old may apply for emancipation in Juvenile Court. The minor must be a Georgia resident.
How does a minor prove that the emancipation should be granted?
The minors must be able to show:
- That the minor's parents or guardians do not object to emancipation. If they do object, then the minor must show that the emancipation is in his or her best interests.
- That the minor has the ability to manage his or her own financial affairs. This includes having proof of employment or other means of support (not public assistance).
- That the minor has the ability to manage his or her own personal and social affairs. This includes having proof of a place to live.That the minor understands his or her rights and responsibilities after emancipation.
The minor must list any adults who have personal knowledge of the minor's situation and who believe that emancipation is in the best interest of the minor. The court will contact these adults and seek a sworn statement from the adults describing why the adult believes the minor should be emancipated. Some examples of adults the minor might list are:
- A doctor or nurse
- A psychologist, counselor or therapist
- A social worker or school guidance counselor
- A school administrator, principal or teacher
- A clergy member
- A law enforcement officer
- An attorney
Anyone involved in the emancipation case can ask the court to assign an employee or appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate and make a recommendation as to whether emancipation is in the best interest of the minor. The court can also appoint an attorney for the minor and appoint an attorney for the parents or guardian if they are indigent and oppose the petition.
Can a minor obtain Juvenile Court emancipation without informing his or her parents or guardians?
No. All living parents (or guardians) must be notified of the minor's request for emancipation. The minor must list each parent's (or guardian's) name and last known address. Sometimes the minor's parents (or guardians) are no longer living or cannot be found. In this case, the minor must list the name and address of the nearest living Georgia relative.
Where should a petition for emancipation be filed?
The petition should be filed in the Juvenile Court in the county where the minor lives.
Can the parents or guardian object to a petition for emancipation?
Yes. If a parent or guardian objects to the emancipation, the adult should attend all hearings. Plus the parent or guardian who objects must file a formal, written answer with the Juvenile Court within thirty (30) days of being served. A listed adult also has the right to file an objection to the emancipation. If the parents or guardian cannot afford an attorney, then the court may appoint an attorney to represent them.
Can an emancipated minor reverse the process?
Yes, an emancipated minor may ask the court to have its emancipation reversed. This is called a petition for rescission. The court will reverse the emancipation for one of the following reasons:
- the minor is indigent and has no means of support;
- the minor and the parents or guardian agree that the emancipation be rescinded; or
- the minor has resumed a family relationship with his or her parents or guardian that is not consistent with the original emancipation.
A rescinded emancipation does not allow the minor to avoid obligations (like debts) made during the time he or she was emancipated.