Maryland allows partial and complete emancipation. A complete emancipation removes all parental legal responsibility. Partial emancipation frees a minor temporarily to make decisions regarding issues such as pregnancy and wages. In Maryland, emancipation occurs in one of four ways. Turning 18 automatically emancipates a minor; marriage and military service emancipate a minor; the court may emancipate a minor due to parental neglect and abuse; and parents may agree to surrender parental control permanently or temporarily. Emancipation in Maryland may elicit confusion because there are no written emancipation laws. Courts handle each situation on a case-by-case basis, often referring to common law.
Reach an agreement. Reaching an agreement prevents the hassle of a court procedure. You may want to formally draft the agreement, but a formal draft is not required. Maryland courts don't provide emancipation forms because the state has no clear emancipation laws or procedures. Seeking the advice of a lawyer or contacting Maryland legal aid (mdlab.org) can provide you with the legal knowledge needed to pursue emancipation. A written or verbal agreement may suffice in cases in which the minor wants to manage her own affairs or become self-supporting.
Initiate legal action. A judge will examine the facts regarding a case and render a decision based on previous emancipation cases. In Maryland, emancipation requires some form of parental action -- the state doesn't grant a minor the right to initiate legal actions. This means a parent or an entity, such as Child Protective Services, must initiate the emancipation process on behalf of the minor.
File the petition in the court of jurisdiction. The Maryland Circuit Court has jurisdiction over emancipation cases (courts.state.md.us).
Prove the case. Courts examine the parent-child relationship, as well as the intentions of the person seeking emancipation. The burden of proof lies with the person seeking emancipation, who must prove any facts presented to the courts. For example, a minor would have to provide proof of age and pregnancy to marry without parental consent. Emancipation because of marriage is partial emancipation. Complete emancipation occurs only after a Maryland court is petitioned to end parental guardianship. If a minor claims to be self-supporting, she must provide copies of bank statements, check stubs and rent receipts. Parents who don't want the responsibility of their child must provide valid reasons for ending the parent-child relationship.