The Chicago Family Law Blog

Minor Emancipation 101

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FindLaw describes minor emancipation as a court process whereby a minor assumes the responsibilities of an adult, meaning he or she must support him or herself (in most cases) and is no longer under the care of his or her parents. Individuals are legally treated as adults in Illinois upon their eighteenth birthday, while minors as young as 16 may petition for emancipation.

A minor seeking emancipation would benefit from contacting an Illinois family lawyer first.

The court considers the following: Best interests of the minor, maturity level of the minor and ability of the minor to support him or herself financially. Minors are automatically considered emancipated when they join the armed forces, get married, or turn 18.

A fact sheet entitled "Should I Become Emancipated?" on Illinois Legal Aid's web site discusses the legal reasons why a minor might seek a Special Emancipation Order.

For one, minors living apart from their parents can face criminal charges if they don't notify their parents of their whereabouts. Also, landlords often refuse to rent to minors and some government agencies provide benefits only to minors who have obtained parental consent.

An emancipation order eliminates these problems because it makes the minor an adult in the eyes of the law.

While the parents of emancipated minors may not decide how their children live their lives, some emancipation orders actually specify that the parents must continue to provide financial support.

To even be considered for emancipation, courts look for evidence of maturity from witnesses such as teachers, friends, employers and other adults. The judge considers the evidence, particularly proof that the minor is capable of taking on significant responsibilities, before making a determination.

Minors who have run away from home generally are not granted an emancipation order.

Related Resources:

  • Emancipation of Minors: The Court Procedure (FindLaw) 
  • Judge: Complex Legal Issues Surround 11-Year-Old Mother (Fox News)
  • Directory of Chicago Family Law Attorneys (FindLaw)

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