Indiana state law empowers juvenile court judges with the power to emancipate a child from the custody of his parents. The law requires the juvenile court to find several facts prior to the emancipation. The court must determine that the child wishes to be free from parental control, does not need protection, has access to enough funds to provide for his support and has a plan for life post-emancipation.
Emancipation and Legal Adulthood
In Indiana, just like in most other states, the age of majority is 18. This means that when an individual turns 18, she becomes a legal adult. Legal adulthood comes with many rights and privileges, such as:
- The right to vote
- The ability to enter legally binding contracts
- The right to marry without parental consent
- The right to enlist in the United States military without parental consent
- The ability to consent to medical treatment
- The ability to manager her own finances
When a teenager is emancipated, she gains some of the rights that she would otherwise gain upon turning 18. These are basically all the privileges and rights that have to do with getting parental consent to take specific actions before reaching the age of majority, like obtaining a work permit or providing informed consent to a medical procedure. Emancipation does not grant a minor access to the rights and privileges that are explicitly age-restricted like voting, buying alcohol or buying tobacco products.
Read More: Divorce & Emancipation
Establishing Your Case
Indiana courts expect you to provide a credible reason for requesting emancipation. You must also prove you are capable of supporting yourself. You must show a stable source of income and a plan for self-sufficiency. Collect pay stubs and organize work references so the court can verify your income.
Preparing Court Filings
Visit your county clerk’s office to get started with court filings. A county-by-county listing of each of Indiana’s court clerks can be found on the Indiana court system’s website at www.courts.in.gov. Go to your local office and request a petition for emancipation. After you complete the document, return it to the clerk's office for filing. Attach documentation of your income and your plan for self-sufficiency once the emancipation petition has been approved.
After the proper documentation is filed, the court will schedule a hearing date for the emancipation. As part of the filing procedure, a summons would be issued to your parents, and they would have the opportunity to appear in court, argue against your emancipation and provide evidence detailing any support or shelter they provide. The court will consider all information before granting or denying a request.
Going Forward Emancipated
Even if an emancipation request is granted, certain court court directives may be in place to govern you. For instance, Indiana laws allows the court to partially award emancipation requests for specific purposes. The court may award a partial emancipation in order to allow the minor petitioner to enter into a contract, own property, consent to marriage or agree to medical treatment.
If you need help filing an emancipation petition, free or reduced cost help may be available. The Indiana court system maintains a directory of organizations that provide legal services to low income clients. You can review options by the county you live in or the county where you plan to file your emancipation request. Representation may be free or low cost depending on your gross income.
For assistance on getting and filing emancipation forms, see if your local county courthouse has a self-help center.
- Indiana Statutes: Title 31 Article 37 Chapter 19 Section 27
- Indiana Statutes: Title 31 Article 34 Chapter 20 Section 6
- Judicial Branch of Indiana: Appeal from the Howard Superior Court
- Judicial Branch of Indiana: Terminate Child Support Because My Child Is Emancipated With an Agreement on All Issues
- Wayne County Indiana Child Support Division: Emancipation and Your Child
- Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images