Emancipation of Minor Children in Illinois
Parents are not the only members of the family that may initiate a separation. In fact, children may also take steps to become free from their parents. The process is called emancipation and, although rare, it can happen in Illinois. But what does it mean, and how does this affect issues like child support?
Illinois Emancipation Laws
Emancipation is the legal term that describes when a child becomes legally free of his parents. It happens either when the child reaches the legal age of majority, which in Illinois, is when the child turns 18 or when the Court issues an order of emancipation. Illinois will not consider a petition for emancipation until the child is 16, and the child may not file the petition on his own. Either his parents (assuming they consent) or a third-party must file on his behalf.
Before granting an emancipation order, the Court will consider whether emancipation is in the child's best interests. Some of the factors the Court may consider include the minor's:
- Age and maturity level;
- Mental, emotional and physical health;
- Means of financial support;
- Suitable living arrangements or has a means of obtaining suitable arrangements; and
- Parental consent.
If the parents do not consent to the emancipation, it will be extremely difficult to obtain the order.
The child must also demonstrate that he is a “mature minor” by being least 16 years of age and able to prove to the Court that he/she has the “capacity to manage his own affairs and to live wholly or partially independent of his parents or guardian.” The child can prove this by showing that he has lived wholly or partially independent from his parents or through testimony from friends and family.
Types of Minor Emancipation Under Illinois Law
There are two types of emancipation the Court can order: whole or partial.
If the child is wholly emancipated, his/her parents have no legal obligation to support the child, financially or otherwise, which includes eliminating a parent’s requirement to pay child support for the child. This means the child is entirely responsible for paying for all of his/her own living expenses and other financial needs. He may make all decisions regarding housing, work and where he receives an education.
If the child is only partially emancipated, then his/her parents may still be required to provide financial support. The child may only have the legal authority to make certain decisions without his/her parents’ approval.
Rights of Emancipated Minor Under Illinois Law
When a child is emancipated, he has many of the same rights and responsibilities of an adult. In Illinois, an emancipated minor has the right to enter into valid legal contracts, as well as any other rights and responsibilities the Court may order. Such rights may include the right to:
- Work and keep all of the earnings (although work restrictions under child labor laws may still apply);
- Make medical decisions;
- Obtain an apartment; and
- File a lawsuit or be sued in Court.
Even with an emancipation order, however, a minor may not engage in activities that require them to reach a certain age. For example, an emancipated minor may not:
- Drive (unless they've reached the legal driving age in their state);
- Vote; or
Palatine, Illinois Emancipation Attorney
If your child is seeking to be emancipated, you need an experienced family law attorney to help walk you through the process. If you agree with your child’s decision, he/she will need your support to help obtain the emancipation order. If you do not agree, you need an attorney who can help you prove to the Court why emancipation is not in the child’s best interest, and that you as the parent should retain full control of his financial and legal affairs. Nicholas W. Richardson understands these issues and is compassionate to the needs of both parents and children, particularly in instances where the parents object to the emancipation. Contact an experienced Illinois child emancipation lawyer at the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., today for a free consultation.