How to File a Legal Separation From Parents

A child in court

Children who seek to be legally separated from their parents can receive adult status before turning 18 through a legally binding agreement called emancipation. Through this process, a judge orders a child to be freed from the care and custody of his parents while enabling him sole responsibility over himself and his livelihood. This includes providing for himself financially while making decisions in regards to living expenses, medical care, food, higher education and work.

Research what the requirements are for legal separation in your state. Requirements may vary from state to state, but in all circumstances, you must be at least 14 years old, you must willingly want to separate from your parents, and you must be able to manage your own finances and prove that you have a secure income.

Visit a local family court office and obtain emancipation forms. This package will include paperwork including a petition for declaration of emancipation of a minor and the income expense declaration form. You will also receive a notice for when the hearing will take place. Generally a hearing takes place 30 to 60 days after a petition has been filed.

Read More: How to Divorce Your Parents

Read over all forms and start filling out the paperwork. Some minors opt to have a lawyer or obtain one for free through the juvenile court.

Write a statement of purpose explaining your living situation, why you want to be emancipated, and how you are going to support yourself. Letters of reference and recommendation from employers and landlords can also be included.

Get your parents to sign the declaration of emancipation of minor document. If you do not know where your parents live, you must inform the courts. If your parents refuse to sign the consent form, they will receive a notification of the hearing in the mail.

Make sure you have copies of all supplemental materials, such as proof of income. Generally a judge will not grant a legal separation if you cannot prove that you are financially stable. Be sure to include bank statements, paychecks and credit card information.

Print out three copies of the application and supplemental information to bring to the hearing.

Go to court and pay a fee to file for legal separation. Generally, the fee ranges from 300 to 500 dollars. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you can fill out a waiver of court fees and costs application form in order to have the fee waived. Without a fee or a waiver form, the legal separation proceedings cannot begin.

Wait to have a judge review your petition for approval or denial.


  • Once a child is legally separated from her parents, an emancipation cannot be undone. If you are uncertain about going through with these proceedings, you should consider talking with a counselor or going to family counseling to discuss any issues that you may have. In some situations, problems may be temporary.

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