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Emancipation of Minors

This article answers frequently answered questions about legal emancipation in Texas.

How can a minor become legally emancipated in Texas?

A minor who wishes to have the legal capacity of an adult can petition a Texas court for the removal of disabilities of minority. This process is also known as emancipation.

 

Who is considered a minor?

A minor is a person under age 18 who has not had the disabilities of minority removed for general purposes.

 

What does the term “disabilities of minority” mean?

The term “disabilities of minority” refers to the restrictions on a minor’s legal capacity. Those restrictions otherwise limit a minor’s ability to enter into contracts and make educational, medical, and financial decisions.

What is the general effect of becoming legally emancipated?

A minor whose disabilities are removed for general purposes has the legal capacity of an adult. When a court removes a minor’s disabilities for general purposes, the minor may:

  • Contract;
  • Consent to medical treatment;
  • Make educational decisions;
  • Litigate without a next friend or guardian;
  • Manage their income and estate; and
  • Make all other legal decisions previously made by the minor’s parent, guardian, or managing conservator.

If you're emancipated, can you drink and vote?

A minor whose disabilities are removed for general purposes is still subject to constitutional or statutory age requirements, including:

  • Voting. A person must be at least 18 to vote;
  • Buying and consuming alcohol. A person must be at least 21 to buy and consume alcoholic beverages; and
  • Buying and consuming tobacco. A person must be at least 18 to buy and consume tobacco products.

Can the court order that a minor’s disabilities be removed for certain specific purposes?

Yes, the court may order that a minor’s disabilities be removed for only certain specific purposes. For example, the court may allow a minor to enter into a particular contract, or lift certain restrictions on the minor’s right to consent to medical treatment.

 

 

Who can petition to have a minor’s disabilities of minority removed?

A minor may file suit in the minor’s own name, and need not be represented by a next friend.

In general, what are the requirements for removing the disabilities of minority?

A minor may petition to have the disabilities of minority removed or limited for general purposes if the minor is:

  • A Texas resident;
  • Self-supporting and managing the minor’s own financial affairs; and
  • 17 years old, or at least 16 years old and living separate and apart from the minor’s parents, managing conservator, or guardian.

See Texas Family Code chapter 31.001

 

Where must a petition to have disabilities of minority removed be filed?

The petition must be filed in the county in which the minor resides.

See Texas Family Code chapter 31.003

 

What must be included in a petition for removal of disabilities of minority?

The petition must state:

  • The minor’s name, age, and place of residence;
  • The name and place of residence of each living parent;
  • The name and place of residence of the guardian of the person and of the estate, if any;
  • The name and place of residence of the managing conservator, if any;
  • The reasons why removal would be in the best interest of the minor; and
  • The purposes for which removal is requested.

See Texas Family Code chapter 31.002

 

Does the minor have to tell her parents or managing conservator that she wants to be emancipated?

A parent of the minor must verify the petition. If a managing conservator or guardian has been appointed, that person must verify the petition (that is, sign it under oath in front of a notary).

If the person who needs to verify your petition is unavailable or if you don't know where they are, then your amicus attorney or ad litem must verify the petition.

See  Texas Family Code chapter 31.002

 

Will the minor have an attorney at the hearing?

Yes, the court must appoint an amicus attorney or attorney ad litem to represent the interest of the minor at the hearing.

See Texas Family Code chapter 31.004.

What if a minor has an order removing their disabilities of minority from another state?

The minor should file a certified copy of the order in the deeds records of any county in Texas. Once a certified copy of the order is filed, the minor has the capacity of an adult.

See Texas Family Code chapter 31.008

 

 

Where can I learn more about legal emancipation?

See Can a Seventeen-Year-Old Leave Home?, a guide by the Texas State Law Library. Consider contacting the Texas Youth Hotline at (800) 989-6884.