Emancipation of a Minor in North Carolina

A teen must reach the age of 16 in North Carolina before seeking emancipation.

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Emancipation is the process whereby a minor child "emancipates" himself from the guardianship and authority of his parents. This means that the child is no longer the responsibility of his parents and he is responsible for any of his actions. In North Carolina, a minor child can apply to a court to be emancipated from his parents under certain circumstances.

Requirements for Age and Residency

Emancipation is specifically meant for minors who have reached a certain age, but are yet to reach the age of majority. The age of majority in North Carolina is 18 and a minor must be at least 16 before trying to seek emancipation from his parents or legal guardians. The laws governing emancipation proceedings in North Carolina are found in Chapter 7B - Article 35 of the North Carolina Statutes. Section 7B-3500 states that such a child must have resided in the same county in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing a petition for a judicial decree of emancipation from a court in that county.


Section 7B-3501 requires the petition to contain certain information. The minor must fill in his name, birth date and the state and county where he was born. He must provide a certified copy of his birth certificate and the name and current or last known address of his guardians or parents. The petitioning minor must include his current address indicating how long he has lived there. He should state the reasons why he is seeking emancipation from his parents and his plans for meeting his needs and living expenses should the emancipation be granted. Proving his ability to take care of himself could include a statement of his employment wages that has been duly verified by his employer.

Automatic Emancipation

A minor could statutorily become emancipated from his parents without having recourse to the courts under some circumstances. When a minor reaches the age of majority in the state, the minor automatically becomes emancipated from his parents and is legally responsible for himself from that point onwards. A minor may also become emancipated by joining the armed forces. Becoming emancipated does not mean that the minor can do everything that legal adults can do. For instance, an emancipated minor is still unable to vote and cannot buy alcohol.


Section 7B-3504 of the North Carolina code specifies the things a court will consider when it receives an application for emancipation from a minor. The court will consider the ability of the petitioner to function as an adult and his need to marry or contract as an adult. The court will consider the type of parental support or supervision the petitioner has received and any type of discord between him and his family.

About the Author

Esther Ejim started writing professionally in 2006. She has worked in various positions in the health-care field for more than 20 years. Ejim holds a Bachelor of Science in social science and gerontology, a Master of Science in health-care administration and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College at Largo.

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