Until a child becomes a legal adult, they are under the control of their parents. Parents are legally required to care for a minor child for their basic needs – food, housing, healthcare, and other necessities. However, there are times when a minor may be better off taking care of themselves. Some parents are abusive or neglectful, while some minors are more responsible than their peers of the same age. If someone under the age of 18 is looking to be in legal control of their life, they will go through the process of emancipation.

What is Emancipation?

Emancipation is a legal process wherein a minor becomes a legal adult before the age of 18 and assumes complete control of every aspect of their life. There are typically three ways for a minor to become a legal adult through emancipation. The three routes to emancipation are getting married, enlisting in the military, or court permission. Once a minor is emancipated, the parents can no longer make decisions for the emancipated minor, and they are not required to financially provide for them. Emancipated minors take legal control of matters such as earnings, consent to marry, medical care, education, ability to own property, and any social services the minor receives. It is worth noting that emancipated minors still have to attend school according to the law.

Who is Eligible for Emancipation in Indiana?

In Indiana, not all minors are eligible for emancipation through court permission. There must be a legitimate reason for requesting the emancipation, such as an unsafe home environment or an inability to provide for the minor. The minor must also prove that they fully understand all of the consequences and responsibilities before a judge will grant the emancipation request. There are a few other factors the courts will expect when a minor requests emancipation. A judge is more likely to grant the request under the following criteria:

  • The minor no longer needs the protection and control of the parents.
  • The minor is able to support themselves financially.
  • The minor has a plan for how they intend to live on their own, including all of the daily logistics like housing, food, clothing, transportation to and from school, and healthcare.
  • The minor fully understands the consequences of being emancipated from their parents.

The Process of Filing for Emancipation

A minor requesting emancipation from their parents should contact a family law lawyer and the state court closest to the minor. A family law lawyer will be able to assist the minor throughout the process, which includes the following steps:

  • Contact the local courthouse to obtain a copy of the emancipation forms.
  • Fill out the forms. It is crucial that the minor answers all of the questions as honestly and clearly as possible. This is where a family law lawyer is useful since they can assist the minor on how to answer the questions and fill out the forms.
  • The minor and the attorney will need to gather any relevant information or documents to prove the minor will be able to live on their own. This is meant to show that the minor has a plan and will be able to financially support themselves.
  • Attend a court hearing before a judge. The judge will give the parents and the minor a chance to speak. The attorney will also present the evidence that the minor is able to take care of themselves.