Emancipation of Minors: The So-Called Divorcing of One’s Parents

Part of being a teenager is the occasional disagreement with one’s parents. But in some rare cases, the parent-child relationship is so troubled that a minor may very well be better able to care for him or herself than his or her parents can. Whether the issue is abuse, neglect, or a loving parent’s medical condition preventing him or her from caring for a minor, there are options to look out for what is in a child’s best interest. One drastic but sometimes necessary option is emancipation.

What is Emancipation?

Emancipation is covered in Illinois by the Emancipation of Minors Act. It is designed to allow mature minors who have proven they can handle their own affairs and live independent of their parents, to at least some degree, to do just that. This allows a minor to enter into contracts that he or she would not otherwise be able to enter. Homeless minors seeking assistance are a particularly targeted community for partial emancipation so that they can consent to receiving services from a licensed agency without having to obtain parental consent.

Who May be Emancipated?

It is important to note that Illinois law does not allow a minor to become fully emancipated if his or her parent or guardian objects to the emancipation. A parent who has had his or her parental rights terminated cannot object to emancipation. Additionally, a parent or guardian cannot force a full emancipation to which the minor does not agree. Only minors between the ages of 16 and 18 are eligible for emancipation. In order to be considered “mature” a minor must have demonstrated the ability and capacity to manage his or her own affairs and live wholly or partially independent of his or her parents or guardian.

So Emancipation is Not Really Like Divorce?

The Illinois emancipation scheme stands in stark contrast to the media depiction of emancipation as a “divorce” between a child and parent. While divorce is something that can happen despite one spouse’s objection, full emancipation cannot occur without the minor and the parent or parents being on the same page. Additionally, emancipation does not actually sever the parent-child tie. While after a divorce former spouses have no continuing legal relationship, after an emancipation a relationship still exists. The minor would still be considered the parents’ child for inheritance and next-of-kin purposes. Instead of the relationship being treated as severed, it is instead treated as it would be treated if the child were to reach the age of 18.

Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.

If you are considering changing the structure of your family through divorce, emancipation, or even adoption, you will need the help of an experienced Illinois family law attorney. Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. We are an Illinois family law practice that is ready and willing to help. Our phone number is 630-665-7676.