Residents of Texas do not have full legal rights until they reach the age of majority, which is 18. Minors can petition a county court to acquire those rights by being declared emancipated from parental or guardian control. Texas law refers to emancipation as the removal of disabilities of minority, meaning that the minor will be treated under the law as if he had reached the age of majority.
Petition Requirements and Process
If a minor is already living away from her parents or legal guardian's home and is self-supporting and managing her own affairs, she can petition for emancipation in Texas at age 16. Those who still live at home cannot ask for emancipation until they are 17. The minor can go to the county court house to get the required petition form for the removal of disabilities of minority. The minor must file the petition in the county where she lives. The petition includes the minor’s name, age and address as well as the names and addresses of any living parents. If the minor has a legal guardian or a managing conservator, that person’s name and address must also be included.
The petition must state why emancipation would be in the minor’s best interest and why the minor is asking for it. For example, if a minor is being abused at home; has moved out because her parents are abusing drugs and is now self-sufficient; or f she wanted to change schools to improve her education but her parents were unwilling to sign the necessary papers, those reasons should be explained in detail in the petition.
Unlike some states, Texas allows minors to file suit on their own, but they still need a parent, guardian or conservator to verify the petition before it’s submitted to the court. This essentially means that the minor can bring the petition on his own, but not without a parent or guardian's knowledge. In the event a parent or guardian is not available, a court-appointed attorney can do verify the petition.
The Emancipation Process
Once the petition is accepted by the court, it will set a date for a hearing and will appoint an attorney to represent the minor during the hearing, normally at no cost to the minor. The minor may bring a parent or guardian to the hearing, but this is not a requirement. Based on the minor's request and what the court believes to be in the minor's best interest, the court can grant specific rights or full rights. For example, if a minor wants to make his own educational choices without requiring a parent's signature on the school applications and forms, the court may grant him the rights of an adult only for interactions with his school. In all other legal issues, he would still be considered a minor. Another minor, who wants to move out of her parent's home and live on her own and can demonstrate to the court that she is able to do so, could be granted full emancipation for all purposes under the law, like signing a rental contract or buying a house. The court order will state exactly which rights have been granted on an individual basis.
Minors who don't live in Texas, but who have been emancipated in another state, may file for emancipation in Texas. To do so, the minor must submit a certified copy of the emancipation order to the deed records of any county in Texas.
Once emancipation has been granted to a minor, he may revoke it whenever he chooses. To do this, the emancipated minor can file a waiver with the clerk at the same county court where the emancipation was granted. The waiver must be signed by the minor and include his name and address.