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This article will explore why a minor should or should not seek emancipation from their parent(s) or legal guardian, the requirements for emancipation in Illinois, and the factors a court will consider in determining whether a minor should be emancipated.    

Emancipation is synonymous with "freedom" or "independence." The word emancipation is a legal term describing a minor's release from custody and control of their parent(s) or guardian. In Illinois, emancipation occurs at the age of 18. However, a minor can file a petition with the court to obtain an order for legal emancipation before the age of 18 if they can show the court that it is in their best interest.    

A minor should not seek emancipation from their parent(s) or guardian if they still require the financial support of their parent(s) or guardian. This includes the need for health insurance. Unless there is a "special" need or reason to emancipate, a minor should seriously consider whether or not it is in their best interest to emancipate themselves fully.  


What Reasons Would a Minor Want to Consider Emancipation?    

A minor must consider all of the facts. Careful consideration is taken to determine whether or not emancipation would be in the minor's best interest. Suppose the minor lives independently from their parents and no longer rely on them for support. In that case, this is only the beginning of the inquiry as to whether or not it would be in the minor's best interest.    

At a minimum, the minor may have the following reasons to seek emancipation:    

  • minor's parent(s) or guardian no longer support them; whether financial or otherwise;   
  • minor can decide where they want to live, go to school or work;    
  • minor can live independently    
  • minor can exercise greater control over their lives    
  • minor is free from the discipline of their parent(s) or guardian    

What Barriers do Minors Face if They Are Not Legally Emancipated?    

Most states have laws that provide parents are responsible for minor children. The law states that minors cannot enter into contracts, cannot live separately from their parents, and cannot obtain medical services without the consent of their parents. If a minor were to move out of their parent's home, where would they live? Would they be able to apply for a job? What would prevent the police from returning them to their parents?    

Emancipation law recognizes that minors lack the capacity and maturity to live independently without supervision. Instances where a minor does leave home, they face many obstacles, including:    

  • inability to sign a lease for an apartment    
  • inability to obtain benefits or services from government agencies without a parent's consent    
  • inability to reside in a shelter or home without being reported to police or their parent(s) or guardian;    
  • inability to enter into a contract for services.    

What Requirements are Necessary Before File a Petition for Emancipation?    

A Petition for Emancipation is a document filed by a minor which sets forth facts to enable a minor to request independence from their parent or guardian. To prevail and obtain an Order that emancipates a minor, the minor must prove that they can live independently. The minor must present the facts which show that emancipation is in their best interest.    

Generally, the facts presented would include:    

  • minor must prove that they can manage their own affairs    
  • minor must be able to show that they already have lived entirely or partially independently    
  • minor must prove that they are mature and it is in their best interest to be independent  

What are Other Factors in Determining Whether or Not a Minor Should be Declared Emancipated?    

The minor seeking emancipation must also prove specific facts that exhibit their independence. Other examples of facts a Court would consider in determining whether a minor should be given their independence include:    

  • A good school or vocational education record    
  • Good work history    
  • Proof that the minor paid their own bills and are financially independent    
  • Proof that the minor has a reasonable financial plan for themselves;    
  • Long range goals;    
  • Other – facts show that the minor can handle significant responsibilities (volunteer work, religious affiliations, extra-curricular activities.)    

The "evidence" for the above can come from the minor or friends, teachers, counselors, employers, or other adults.    

Parent(s) or guardians can object to a minor's Petition for emancipation. However, the Court will grant the Petition if the minor presents sufficient "clear and convincing" evidence that it is in their best interest to emancipate.  

Emancipation can be an intimidating process. Having the proper legal counsel can make all the difference. Call our office at (630) 324-6666, or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Illinois family law attorneys today. You can also fill out our confidential contact form, and a member of our law firm will be in touch with you.    

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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