The first thing that comes to mind when I hear "emancipation" is the emancipation proclamation. Of course, that is not what we're talking about here! However, just as slaves were emancipated from their owners, so too can a minor be emancipated from their parents. Here's how.
Emancipation is the process by which a child's "disability" of being minor is removed. This allows the minor to enter into contracts and conduct other business as if they were an adult. They will be able to obtain their own medical care, sign their own school forms, sign rental contracts and leases, receive their own disability checks, sign up for benefits programs, and more.
There are two ways to get emancipated. True emancipation is found in Arkansas Code 9-27-362. It allows a minor who is part of a dependency-neglect, dependency, family in need of services, or delinquency case to file for emancipation. They have to be 17 and they have to serve their parents with notice. After emancipation under this section, the minor's parents are no longer responsible for them. The court looks at the following factors to decide if the minor should be emancipated:
- If the juvenile has the ability to live separate and apart from their parents;
- If they can manage their own financial affairs;
- If they have a legal source of income, like a job;
- If they have a plan for healthcare coverage;
- If they can meet compulsory school attendance laws; and
- If emancipation is in their best interests.
This type of emancipation only occurs as part of a DHS case. And notably, it does not allow you to buy cigarettes or alcohol before you are of legal age!
The other kind of emancipation is called "removal of disabilities." It's also called "contract emancipation." It falls under Arkansas Code 9-26-104 and it allows a judge to authorize someone who is 16 years of age or older to either "transact business in general" or to transact some particular business specifically.
For instance, I had a case where a 16-year-old girl needed to be able to sign her own medical releases because her parents were either unable or unwilling to do so. The judge can either remove all of her disabilities and allow her to contract in general, or he could issue an order allowing her to sign her own medical forms specifically.
Contract emancipation does not have the same factors as emancipation in a DHS case, and it may not have as far-reaching results either.
As you can see, this can get complicated. If you're a minor who is considering emancipation, or a parent who needs representation, then schedule a consultation with Leslie and see what she can do for you.