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Emancipation of Minors

Individual Rights

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

Here, learn about legal emancipation in Texas, including how a minor can become legally emancipated, the effect of emancipation, and the requirements for removing the "disability of minority." The article also covers the role of parents and managing conservators in the emancipation process and the appointment of an attorney for the minor.

How can a minor become legally emancipated in Texas?

A minor who wishes to have the legal capacity of an adult can ask 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 limit a minor’s ability to enter 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 purchase and consume alcoholic beverages; and
  • Purchasing and consuming tobacco. A person must be at least 21 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 their 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 their own financial affairs; and
  • Seventeen 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 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 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 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 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 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 31.008

Where can I learn more about legal emancipation?

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

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