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Emancipation: When parents and children seek to separate

The general rule of law in Louisiana is that parents and children are bound to each other in some way until the children reach the age of adulthood. Children have a right to expect a certain level of support from their parents and parents have an obligation to provide for the child. There's also some expectation that the parents will take appropriate steps to raise the child to become as productive a member of society as possible.

Things don't always work out according to the ideal. Just as two adults who marry sometimes wind up divorcing, there are situations in which children and parents might begin to consider whether it wouldn't be a wise idea to separate from each other. No legal basis exists for minor children to divorce their parents, but they may be able to petition for legal separation by seeking emancipation through the courts.

This is something those experienced in family law issues understand. Whether the right conditions exist under the law to allow emancipation in a given case, however, is something that needs to be assessed carefully before any decisions are made.

In Louisiana, a person is an adult, reaching "age of majority," when they turn 18. Prior to that, they are considered minors. They may be eligible for emancipation before turning 18 under certain conditions. For example, a child of 15 could be granted emancipation with the notarized approval of his or her parents. A court might consent to a petition for someone upon their reaching the age of 16 or in a case where the individual has married.

So, the general criteria for seeking legal emancipation is being the proper age and proper notification of the parents. What the court must then weigh is whether the action would be in the minor's best interest. Factors examined in that regard might include whether the minor is self-supporting, is mature enough to function as an adult or faces possible abuse if he or she faces abuse by remaining in the parents' home.

Clearly such steps must not be taken lightly.

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