Legal Emancipation of Minors in California


Minors in California who are under the age of 18 can become adults in the eyes of the court. Through emancipation, a minor has most of the limitations of someone under the age of 18 lifted. A judge has the final say about granting the status. The status is only granted if the judge feels emancipation is in the best interest of the minor.

Why Seek Emancipation

  • Minors sometimes seek adult status because they want to be able to do one of the following: approve medical treatment for herself, enroll in school or apply for a work permit. A minor might also seek emancipation to be able to live independently of parents or guardians. In California, you must be at least 14 years old to petition the court for emancipation. You must also be able to show that you can support yourself financially, so be prepared to bring financial documents like tax returns and bank statements.

How to Get Emancipated

  • Minors start the emancipation process by obtaining Form MC-300, the official petition for emancipation. This is available from the county clerk's office along with other needed forms, including an income and expense declaration and a notice of hearing. Be prepared to answer questions about your address, financial situation and why you're seeking emancipation. After filling out the forms and returning them to the county clerk, you might be asked to pay a filing fee, which varies by county. The judge will either approve or deny your petition within 30 days.

Other Ways to Become Emancipated

  • Besides petitioning the court, a minor does have a couple of options to obtain minor emancipation status. A minor is emancipated if he gets married and has permission of both his parents and the courts. A minor who has joined any branch of the armed services is also given the status, but only if he has parental permission to join the military.

Emancipation Limitations

  • Some limitations don't lift even after emancipation. A minor is still legally obligated to attend school. She also may not legally buy cigarettes until age 18 or drink alcohol until age 21. Also, the minor still must have parental permission before getting married. If the minor breaks the law, she is still subject to arrest and prosecution. If a minor lies on the emancipation petition or suddenly cannot provide self-support, the emancipated status can be taken away by the courts.


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