Children under the age of 18 often think that their only choice is to live with one or both of their parents, but this isn’t always the case. Though there are several conditions that may be met, it is possible for children to move out of their parents’ house before the age of 18. Emancipation is the term used to describe this situation, wherein children need not reside with their parents.
“For some teens, living with parents isn’t always the best option,” says San Diego divorce attorney, John Griffith. “Provided the parents agree with the teen’s decision to move out, there are often alternatives to what’s considered a ‘traditional’ family living situation.”
How to Get Emancipated in California
In California, there are three ways for a person under 18 to become emancipated. These include:
- Getting married. Though this stipulation still requires court and parental approval, it is one living alternative for otherwise dependent children.
- Joining the armed forces. Again, parents need to agree with this situation, and the child needs to be accepted into the armed services.
- Getting a judge’s declaration of emancipation. If this option is sought, all of the following conditions must be met:
- The child needs to be at least 14 years of age.
- Both the parent(s) and the child must agree that it’s best that the child move out.
- Finances are not an issue: the child can both handle his/her own finances and has a legal way to make money.
- Emancipation is in the best interest of the child.
Alternatives to Emancipation
It’s up to each family and a qualified California family law attorney to decide what’s best for their unique situation. In some cases, emancipation may not be the appropriate decision. Some other solutions may include:
- Counseling or mediation. Some seemingly irreconcilable issues may be resolved over time with the help of trained professionals.
- Choose an alternative together. Parents and children can decide together what the best outcome might be. Perhaps this involves using government programs or placement with private agencies.
- Living with another family. Even if the parents aren’t the right placement for the child, maybe living with another relative is best. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other familial relations may offer suitable alternatives without involving emancipation.
“Since every case is so entirely different, there may be solutions the family hadn’t even considered,” says Griffith. “It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable family attorney to see what the best scenario is for your individual situation.”
If you’re trying to decide the best placement for your child, schedule a free consultation with the experienced family lawyers at Griffith, Young, and Lass.
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