Most people become “fully emancipated” when they turn 18. The state recognizes that they are an adult, and they become free of parental control. They no longer need to ask their parents to handle their legal or financial matters, and they can make adult decisions, including voting, marriage and investments.
There are, however, children who seek early emancipation. Some feel that they are ready to take on adult responsibilities, and no longer wish for their legal or financial matters to be handled by their parents. Others want the right to move into their own place, and make career other major decisions without having to seek another person’s legal consent.
A child must be above 14 years old to approach the court and file for emancipated minor status. He must then go through a very strict process of proving to the court that he or she has consistently proven the ability to live on one’s own. This doesn’t just mean holding a stable part-time job—the court is less likely to grant the request of a runaway working student scraping by on minimum wage than a professional actress with a steady, sizeable income. It also helps if the teenager’s parents do not contest the request, and offer no objections to his or her desire for early independence.
Some countries like the United States offer other ways for teenagers to achieve emancipated minor status. Aside from filing for a case in court, a minor can opt to become legally married. However, he or she must still meet the requirements of the state for the minimal age of consent. Hence, a 15-year-old bride would be able to sign for a housing loan or apply for adult benefits like insurance or food stamps. The United States also grants emancipated minor status to those who successfully file for enlistment in the Armed Forces.