Facts on Minor Emancipation in Arizona
If you’re considering minor emancipation in Arizona, either for yourself or for a family member, understanding the process and what emancipation means for your family is crucial. Every family dynamic is different. In some situations, staying together and living in the same house is not sustainable. The realm of family law can provide a few different solutions when this occurs, but minor emancipation tends to stand out as a more elusive option when it comes to finding a viable alternative family dynamic.
In this guide, we’ve explained the essential guidelines for minor emancipation in Arizona. Learn more to determine the path that’s right for your situation.
How Is Minor Emancipation Recognized in Arizona?
Minor emancipation is the legal term for seeking independence from one’s parents before the age of eighteen. When a teen is legally emancipated, their parents are no longer legally obligated to support them financially and are no longer their official guardians. After emancipation becomes official, there will be no requirement for the parents to supply clothing, food, or health insurance to these children.
Emancipated minors are deemed legally independent from their parents. Thus, teens who have achieved emancipation have many of the same rights and responsibilities as adults, depending on the state. This may include the right to enter contractual agreements, sue another individual and be sued, pay child support, retain a residence, and buy or sell real estate property.
At What Age Can Minors Seek Emancipation In Arizona?
After formally incorporating emancipation into state laws in 2012, Arizona recognizes the potential for minor emancipation in certain situations. Arizona state law dictates that children as young as sixteen can file for emancipation. This means that any child, ages sixteen to seventeen, may file for emancipation and become financially independent from their parents as long as they meet certain criteria relating to financial stability and current guardianship. For example, if a sixteen-year-old is already able to financially support themselves and would prefer to do that on their own, they are within their rights to seek emancipation under Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 12-2451.
The age requirement for minor emancipation coincides with employment restrictions in the state. According to Arizona state labor laws, children can work at the age of sixteen during school hours. When school is not in session, children as young as fourteen can be employed. However, although the youngest a minor can work legally is fourteen, the youngest a child can be considered for emancipation is sixteen. This is because the reasoning behind the age limit on emancipation takes labor statutes into account, allowing these children the opportunity to work enough to generate the money needed to support themselves. Overall, the goal of the age limit is to provide a minor with a sense of security while giving them the legal abilities and rights that allow them to support themselves.
Minor Emancipation In Arizona
Minor emancipation in Arizona begins with gathering information to use in your court proceedings. To begin the process, a Petition for Emancipation must be filed with the court, alongside a written declaration that proves that the minor seeking emancipation understands the implication of this decision. In the application, the minor must then prove they have a stable income, the ability to live independently from their parents, and the retention of services like medical coverage, education, and more, as deemed necessary by the court. The petition must also include supplementary documentation that proves that the minor is financially stable and has been for at least three months, an explanation describing the reasoning behind their emancipation or a notarized document that proves the parents consented to this decision.
After the Petition for Emancipation is submitted with all the necessary information, the decision rests with the court. Arizona Family Court will evaluate the petition, including any supplemental material that goes along with the application. The outcome of an emancipation case affects many parties, and the court must be sure that its decision meets the needs of both the child and the parents. It is important to note that if a child is actively applying for emancipation, the mere ability to undertake such a significant process may be considered an indicator of their ability to function or thrive after emancipation.
What Are The Requirements To Get Emancipated In Arizona?
For every Arizona family court proceeding, certain requirements must be met to file the petition with the court and win its approval. Divorce is a common example. To file for divorce, you must be a resident of the state of Arizona, and you must prove that your marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be salvaged.
Emancipation petitions are approved in much the same manner. You’ll have the burden of proof to demonstrate your need for emancipation and must have formal documentation to justify your filing.
- Be at least sixteen years of age
- Currently reside in or be a resident of Arizona
- Prove themselves to be financially able to live on their own and capable of handling their expenses moving forward
- Agree to and prove a thorough understanding of the emancipation process and its results, and provide a written statement that reaffirms this understanding
- Prove they are not currently a ward of the state and that they seek emancipation from a parent or guardian figure
More specifically, to become emancipated, a teen must demonstrate that they are financially self-sufficient and have lived independently of their guardian, parents, or legal custodian for at least three months. Instead of financial standing, minors seeking emancipation could provide a statement explaining why their current family dynamic is unsafe.
Alternatively, minors can provide a notarized document stating that their parents have approved of their emancipation. Without this document, parents are given time by the court to either agree or disagree with the request. If the parents can’t agree once notified of the petition, all parties may need to seek mediation to find a solution or have a judge decide for them during litigation.
How Long Does It Take for Minor Emancipation In Arizona?
The process of how to request a court order for the emancipation of a minor begins with filing a petition for emancipation. After the petition is filed, the emancipation request must be heard by the court within 90 days of filing. During that time, the minor seeking emancipation may choose to represent themselves or retain legal counsel. However, as with any legal proceeding, representation provided by a lawyer or attorney is strongly advised and can be the main determining factor in the case’s success. If the minor requests an attorney, their representation may be chosen by the court.
The court must inform the minor’s parents of their request for emancipation at least two months before the scheduled court hearing, giving them time to reach out about the case. If the parents object to their child’s filing, they have thirty days to submit a formal objection before the court accepts the filing. Either the parents or the court can ask for mediation, but this varies from situation to situation.
Depending on the unique situations encountered by Arizona families, the resulting legal process can vary. For example, if the parents do not object to the filing after receiving the notification early on in the case, the process can be streamlined and will take less time. These decisions are often received well by the court and can help maintain a cordial relationship between the minor and their parents. Alternatively, if the parents wait to contest the filing until the end of their thirty days, the deliberation may take longer, drawing out the case and delaying the result. More complex cases like this can be stressful for all those involved and require a more delicate approach from both legal teams and the courts.
What Rights Are Given To Emancipated Minors In Arizona?
If emancipation is approved, new rights are given to the minor, and they are legally recognized as having more responsibilities when compared to others their age. Common misconceptions about the emancipation process often involve the assumption that a minor is then given all of the legal rights of an adult. However, state and federal restrictions still apply, and the full scope of rights given to an emancipated minor and recognized by the State of Arizona may be different than the rights given to an adult over the age of eighteen. For example, emancipated minors remain under the legal age for consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis in the state.
In Arizona, emancipated minors can legally:
Choose Their Housing
As part of gaining legal independence from their parents, emancipated minors reserve the right to retain the property, either by purchasing it or renting it. Minors should note that owning or renting a home is one of the biggest responsibilities they can take on.
It may not seem like a primary legal concern, but necessities like food become some of the new responsibilities thrust onto a minor’s plate after emancipation. A legal guardian or parent is required to provide proper care for a dependent, including food, but as an emancipated minor, a teen reserves the right to provide these needs for themselves.
Legally Engage With and Enter Formal Contracts
Binding legal documents are not offered and cannot be ratified to minors still living with their parents. From mobile phone plans to lease agreements, emancipated minors are legally allowed to enter these agreements without a parent or guardian’s signature.
Choose an Outlet and Method of Making Money For Themselves
Child labor laws still apply to emancipated minors, meaning that they cannot work under certain conditions and still have scheduling or time constraints. However, they are free to search for any other jobs that fall within these parameters and choose the employment path they would like to take without parental oversight.
Obtain a Work Permit and Begin Working Without a Parent’s Permission
Applying for a work permit can begin at the age of fourteen and allows minors to work during the school week. As an emancipated minor, a teen gains the right to choose when to get a work permit, as well as apply for applicable jobs.
Petition For Court Proceedings or Sue Without a Parent’s Permission
Typically, minors are not allowed to sue or be sued in a court of law. However, emancipated minors are legally recognized as not needing this preauthorization from a parent, allowing them to file or accept any lawsuits that apply.
Control Access to Medical Care and Procedures
For certain medical procedures, especially surgeries or anything that could lead to permanent damage, a parent’s signature is needed for minors undergoing these operations. As an emancipated minor, you have full autonomy over your health and medical decisions that you may face.
Choose an Insurance Carrier
Typically, minors are covered as dependents on their parent’s insurance plans. Emancipated minors have the right to hold insurance and create an insurance plan reflective of their personal needs.
Seek Higher Education at a College or University
Although required to attend school until graduation or the age of eighteen, emancipated minors reserve the right to seek higher education and apply to these schools, whether for a degree or certificate program.
These rights may seem like a list of new responsibilities bestowed on an emancipated minor. However, the objective of emancipation is to create a way for these minors to be self-sufficient, which means self-reliance instead of relying on responsibilities typically left to parents. Overall, emancipation can be seen as an early entry to adulthood, which includes new responsibilities as well as independence from parental oversight.
Find Lawyers for Your Emancipation Case
Our parents are one of the first lines of support we are expected to turn to for the basic necessities and decisions important to daily life. In certain situations, that is not feasible and can even lead to disastrous results. If this is the case for you, applying for emancipation may be the best option for your situation.
Minor emancipation can be a vital lifeline and safe method of escape from an unfavorable family dynamic or living situation. However, it is not easy to secure on your own. Getting an Arizona attorney to gather the materials and help you argue your case for emancipation can seem overwhelming, but the process is well worth it for your mental and physical well-being.
Jonathan Roeder, Co-Founder of The Valley Law Group, is an Arizona native who has dedicated his life and career to the service of others. After graduating salutatorian of his high school class, Jonathan attended beautiful and prestigious Pepperdine University, where he majored in Political Science. During his tenure at Pepperdine University, his passion for helping others grew after securing a clinical position with a residential treatment center for juveniles with substance addictions. Post-graduation, Jonathan returned to Arizona and served as a residential manager for mentally and physically disabled homes.