How to File an Emancipation Petition

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By filing a petition for emancipation, a teenager may legally separate and become independent from his or her parents or guardian. Emancipation procedures and requirements vary by state, so always consult an attorney and your state's court system before filing. In most cases, teenagers who are 16 years or older, married, in the armed forces, or who are living apart from their parents and supporting themselves entirely, are eligible to file for emancipation. Filing for emancipation requires filling out and filing numerous state court forms and a hearing before a judge, who will decide if emancipation is in the best interest of the teenager and the family.

Step 1

Obtain and fill out the required forms for your state for emancipation. These forms vary by state, but usually include a general petition for declaration of emancipation of minor, and an form listing your expenses and sources of income. You may have to make copies of these forms or other documents.

Step 2

File the required forms in your local circuit court. You can usually bring the forms into the court clerk's office during business hours.

Step 3

Pay the required filing fee with a check or money order. Depending on your state, these fees can range between $100 and $300. Some states allow you to request a waiver of the fee if you cannot afford it, however, keep in mind that one of the tenets of emancipation is proving your ability to fully support yourself financially. If you cannot afford the fee, you may want to reconsider emancipation.

Step 4

Wait for the scheduling of your hearing, or in some cases, an official waiver of hearing. Depending on your location and circumstances, a judge may require you and your parents or guardian to attend a hearing, unless your parents/guardian sign a waiver. In these cases, the court may be able to rule on your case without a hearing.

Step 5

Attend any hearings that are scheduled, if necessary. You may usually bring relevant witnesses to testify on your behalf during a hearing, such as landlords, employers, teachers, or counselors.


  • It is a good idea to consult and hire an attorney to assist you with this process.
  • The steps above are general to all states and may not be applicable in every case.


About the Author

A writer and professional lab assistant based in Seattle, Kate Bruscke has been writing professionally about health care and technology since 1998. Her freelance clients include "The Seattle Times,", Reading Local: Seattle, Nordstrom and MSN/Microsoft. Bruscke holds a Master of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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