Emancipation Laws of Minors in the State of Wisconsin

By John Monahan

In Wisconsin, a child becomes legally emancipated at the age of 18. If the child is still enrolled in high school, he becomes a legal adult when he turns 19 or graduates, whichever comes first. Emancipation provides children the rights to take care of themselves without the legal supervision of their parents.

No Specific Emancipation Law

Unlike many states, no specific statute exists regarding emancipation in Wisconsin; however, means are available for a minor to obtain the legal rights of an adult. Wisconsin children seeking emancipation must go through the court system, obtain a family lawyer and request her advice. While emancipation is rare, an abusive relationship between the guardians and the minor should be apparent. Additionally, he must prove he is able to sustain himself financially.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

Wisconsin's Children's Code states that a court may terminate the rights of a parent if he gives the consent. The law requires that a parent give consent in court but, if unable to attend, may give written consent in front of an embassy official or a judge of any other court. A decision may not grant emancipation.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

A court or jury can relinquish a parent's rights due to several reasons, including continuing need of services, parental disability, child abuse, failure to assume parental responsibility and a committed felony against the child. The court may revoke parental duties due to abandonment when a parent leaves a child for a substantial period. A ruling may not grant emancipation.

Emancipation Through Marriage or Active Duty

If she is married or enlists in active duty in the armed forces, a minor is considered an emancipated citizen. In 1968, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled in Nielson v. Nielson that parents are free of their obligation to support a child if she becomes married or enrolled in the military. In Wisconsin, a person can marry at the age of 16 with parental consent. Seventeen year olds may enlist in the military with parental consent.

About the Author

John Monahan is a freelance writer based in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. with over five years of writing experience. He holds a bachelor's degree from Susquehanna University in journalism. He spent two years as a sports information director, working at Pennsylvania State University and Goucher College. Monahan is currently employed as a sports contributor at "The Times Leader."