Under Ohio law, a minor is described as a person who has not yet reached the age of 18 or the “age of majority” and is under the legal and financial support of an adult parent or guardian. A parent or guardian is legally and financially in control of a minor until the minor turns 18 or upon graduation from high school if the child turns 18 in his or her senior year. Emancipation is simply the process of petitioning the court to recognize a minor as a legal adult and terminate all or part of the legal or financial responsibility assigned to the parent or guardian.
So why get emancipated? There are a variety of reasons that emancipation might be sought out. If it is sought out by the minor, perhaps the minor has a poor relationship or is estranged with the parents or guardian and just wants legal and financial independence. The minor might be financially able to support themselves, has entered into the military or has entered into a marriage. Emancipation may also be sought out by the parents or guardians to terminate a financial or child support obligation previously assigned to them.
So how does one become emancipated? It is important to note that in Ohio, a minor cannot simply petition the court to be emancipated. Emancipation is next to impossible to obtain from the courts without some sort of parental consent along the way. The process of emancipation can happen a few ways. If a minor wants emancipation and the parents or guardians are willing to sign off, a petition must be made to the court to show good cause. The minor will have to show they are capable of financially supporting themselves and that they can make sound and responsible adult decisions. However, the burden of proof lies with the parents to prove to the courts that it is the best interest of the minor to become emancipated. Even in extreme case such as abuse or neglect, the minor is more likely to become a ward of the state than to be granted emancipation. In Ohio, the easiest path to emancipation is entering into a marriage. Again, minors can only enter into a marriage WITH consent from the legal parents or guardians. In a marriage, the courts typically recognize the new spouse as taking on the former roles of the parents or guardian.
All states vary in how they grant emancipation. In Ohio, emancipation is granted on a case by case basis based on the specific circumstances of the case. However, the bottom line is that emancipation is not commonly granted and careful consideration must be made when a minor attempts to take this step. One last thing to note is that if emancipation is granted, there are certain legal restrictions that will always remain in place until the age of 18 is reached, such as the legal right to vote and the ability to purchase firearms or tobacco products.
If you have additional questions regarding emancipation and want to set up a free consultation to speak with the attorney, please call us at 614-767-5402.