Teen Emancipation

Please direct questions to the comments section below

Let’s face it—many adults make terrible parents. Sometimes, a teenager would be better off without the harmful, toxic involvement of his or her parents. Emancipation can be one answer to the problem. In Minnesota, “emancipation” means that a minor has the same legal rights and Minor obligations as an eighteen-year-old adult. It can also be “partial, conditional … or limited as to time or purpose.” Sonnenberg v. County of Hennepin, 99 N.W.2d 444, 447-48 (Minn. 1959).

The parents of emancipated children are released of their legal duty to financially support their children. Emancipated minors are still subject to the law based on their age (i.e. they cannot buy alcohol or cigarettes, must be off the streets by curfew, are not able to vote and will be considered truant if they don’t attend school), however, emancipation allows them to function independently in an economic sense (i.e. sign a lease for an apartment, get credit). MN statutes recognize several rights for emancipated children, including:

  • an emancipated minor may forego immunization because of religious belief (Minn. Stat. § 121A.15, subd. 3(d))
  • an emancipated minor is allowed to own a passenger auto or truck (Minn. Stat. § 168.101, subd. 1)
  • a legally emancipated minor is eligible for General Assistance (Minn. Stat. § 256D.05, subd. 1(a)(10))
  • an existing guardianship may be discharged upon a showing that the child is emancipated (Minn. Stat. § 260C.328)

Minnesota law does not provide a distinct process for minors to become emancipated from their parents. However, a court can use its discretion to declare that a child is emancipated by applying certain factors, but there is no way to predict how a court will rule on the issue. The law is complicated in this area because it seeks to protect both the parents and the children. Emancipation can be expected to occur:

  1. by reaching the age of eighteen,
  2. by lawful marriage (Lundstrom v. Mample 285 N.W. 83 (Minn. 1939)),
  3. by implied or express parental consent (In re Fiihr 184 N.W.2d 22 (Minn. 1971)), or
  4. by court order.

Emancipation is often a complicated and confusing process, and there may be other legal options that may be more effective for your situation.

Other Options Besides Emancipation

Children in Need of Protective Services (CHIPS)

For a child age sixteen or older who is the subject of a “child in need of protective services” petition, the Juvenile Court may authorize an independent living situation for the child that is the equivalent of emancipation. Minn. Stat. § 260C.201, subd. 1(a)(5). Alternatively, if the child wants to be parented in another home, an adult from a home can go to court for an order giving them custody of the child. The other alternative is foster care. Ultimately, the court will decide which supervision is appropriate.

Delegation of Parental Authority (DOPA)

There is a DOPA form that can be filled to pass on parental authority to another party.

Order for Protection (OFP)

For emotionally, physically, or sexually abused individuals, an OFP can be filed with a court by the victim or a third party at no charge. You will get a hearing before a judge, and he will decide, based on testimony and evidence, the appropriate course of action. In an OFP hearing, the judge will not necessarily give you what you ask, but will decide what is appropriate from his own discretion.

A letter stating emancipation

Some problems (e.g., getting a lease for an apartment) may be resolved by a statement by your parent saying that you are emancipated or a letter from a lawyer which contains the legal conclusion that you should be considered emancipated.

Other Minnesota Emancipation Resources

Steps to Seek Emancipation

If you decide emancipation is the best option for you, the process is to complete legal forms, which are commonly known as “emancipation papers” or “emancipation forms,” and file them with the court. Then the court will hold a hearing, where the person seeking emancipation attends. On average, court and attorney fees total $3,000. If parents contest the emancipation petition, the fees will be higher.

How Much Does an Emancipation Attorney Cost?

Emancipation attorney help is not cheap. Hiring an attorney usually costs $5,000 to $10,000.

Each situation has its own complexities and there are many aspects to discuss to understand the details of your situation and advise you accurately. We have an experienced attorney here who would be happy to analyze your situation’s circumstances and advise you of your legal rights and options. This can generally be accomplished during a one-hour meeting (which can be by phone). Our fee for a one-hour meeting is $300. Work beyond that initial hour is at usual hourly rates. We do not offer free consultations on this type of work.

How to Get Other Help

Often, you need more than help from the courts. You need to talk with someone experienced with your problems or you need to find safety. Here are some additional resources to get help outside of the court system:


Leave a Public Comment

  • Dalton Anderson
    September 28, 2014, 3:41 pm

    I am cuerently 16 years old and live with my grandparents. my mom is mentally unstable and my dad was just reacently locked up for five years for having a gun as a felony. I got into some trouble for haveing weed and my grandparents are kicking me out and i am running out of options. i have job i am very self relient and would move out to my dads if i got emancipated while he is on lock up. if you think this is a ligtamnt reason to get emanciapted please email me i need to figure this all out asap
    email: andersondalton1@gmail.com
    thanks for your help

  • Laura
    August 23, 2014, 7:36 pm

    My son is 18 and his pregnant girlfriend is 16. The baby is due in March of next year when the mother will be 2 months from being 17 years old. The 16 yr olds mother has stated she does not want the baby in her home as she does not want to raise another child. My husband and I have offered to allow the girl to live with us as well as continue to live with us once the baby is born. Her mother is refusing stating because she does not want to lose her child support. What can we do legally to ensure the protection of the baby as well as our sons rights to this child? He does not want to take the baby from its mother but at the same time wants to make sure the baby and mother are in a safe place. Are there any resources for the father? Can the pregnant teen legally move out before ag 18? Please help, thank you!

  • Kazamay
    August 13, 2014, 12:34 am

    Hello, I’m not like everyone else down below… but it has to do with me trying to live on my own. I’m 16, I work 30 hours a week and can up to 40. I go to an online school that I pay for also. My situation with my mother is that we get along very well, I have little to no restrictions so she is totally cool with me going out early. I have tons of questions and if anyone wants to send me an email and we can have a q/a session that would be great.

  • jonny j
    August 5, 2014, 11:50 pm

    Hi I’m 15 and my mom is mentally and emotionnaly abusive to all 3 of us especially me and my brother. I would like to either live with my dad or by myself in a cheap apartment. I have a stable job with promotions and raises coming soon plz text me with info on how I can leave. She has kicked me out before and I once got In trouble for leaving when she told Me to. When my dad tries to help he gets in trouble. She has only been physiccaly abusive a few times and once I kicked back. I feel bad but then again don’t. She blames me for nothing and is the BIGGEST hypocrite i know please txt me at 320-219-3570 with info

  • Morgan
    July 31, 2014, 11:32 pm

    Hi. I’m 15 years old and I’m pregnant. I want to move out and live with my boyfriend and his mom when I turn 16 which is in February. But I don’t have a job. But my boyfriend makes 25 dollars an hour and can support both me and the baby. I don’t know if I would be able to do that. My parents wouldn’t be okay with it but I need to be able to spend everyday with my boyfriend so he can help with the baby. I want to be able to leave home and get emancipated so I can take care of my child with the help of my baby’s dad. Please help! Thank you for taking the time and reading my comment. Please email me!

  • Alexis
    July 25, 2014, 5:18 pm

    Hello. My brothers girlfriends guardian (grandpa) brought her to Minnesota with my brothers baby in her! She is going to be 17 in August and will have her baby about 6 months before she turns 18! Does having that baby emancipate automatically? The doctor she sees told her that that’s what would happen but I really need to clarify

  • breanna froehlich
    June 29, 2014, 11:53 pm

    Hi, I am 17 years old. I will be turning 18 on September 8th, so it’s a little over two months from now. I was wondering how hard it would be to get emancipated in Minnesota. I live with my birth mother, and my step father. I have a full time job, and pretty much support myself now. I buy my food that I use to bring to work, and I buy my own clothes and things that I would need on a daily basis. I had lived on my own once before but it wasn’t very long. Only for about two weeks until my mother made me move back home. I don’t like living with mother mother because she abuses me emotionally, and sometimes physically. She doesn’t support anything that I do, and she always has something bad to say about ny decisions. We argue every single day. It gets so bad where I break down and cry, and that’s still not enough. I feel like I am depressed every day of my life because I live with her. I feel like my life would be better off without her. I need help!

  • Kyle
    June 28, 2014, 4:30 pm

    Hello, i am 17, going to be 18 in 6 months. I was wondering if there was any way i could live with my friend for the remainder of my high school career. My mother was emotionally and physically abusive, shes been married to my step father for as long as i remember but he is also emotionally and physically abusive towards me, and on top of that he is an alcoholic. My father doesnt have a stable home and has told me that in a couple of weeks we could be living in his vehicle, he doesnt have enough money to feed himself, let alone me. My father has threatened to abuse me in a public place and has hit me before. I dont necissarily want to become emancipated, but i dont want to be sent to a foster home, i have a home lined up for me if there is anyway this could work, i would be paying rent, and i have a steady job, a good vehicle, but my grades do need work. If there is any way that this is possible please email me at Kcran12345@yahoo.com
    Thank you

  • Britt
    June 28, 2014, 5:02 am

    Hello, I am a 17 year old and I’m.five months from being 18. My mom threatened to have me emancipated and there are no clear laws in Minnesota regarding the process. My birth parents are divorced and I live with my birth mother and step dad. I was curious about the process and what all I need to know if I decide that living with my boyfriend is the choice I want to make. If you could email me it would be much appreciated

  • Kaela
    June 24, 2014, 1:27 am

    Hi I am 16 years old I’ll be 17 in August. I was wondering if there’s any chance I could live on my own or with a friend. My mom and step dad are verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusive to me. My mom and real dad are divorsed. I live with my mom full time and can come see my dad whenever but my real dad is an alcoholic bad and went to treatment but that didn’t work . He always gets laid off of a job. My mom yells at me about child support when I have nothing to do with it. I get yelled at for nothing. My mom never believes me at anything. They made me move my senior year. They said they felt sorry for making me move and they tell me I can go back up to where I used to live whenever I want then when we finally moved they don’t want me going up there they said they don’t feel sorry for me anymore, they used to call me autistic when I’m not they make me feel like sc crap everyday. They swear at me for no reason they tell me to pull the stick out of my ads and call me names and they threatened to slap me and they told me to go live somewhere else but when I actually start packing a bag they won’t let me leave. I just feel like I’m not welcome here anymore and I wanna go back to my old town I don’t wanna move for my senior year and they don’t care they always freak out at me and threaten me. If there’s any way you can leave and live with a friend that would be really helpful I’m not happy here and they don’t care if I’m upset they will still yell at me. Email me if you can help me I could really use your help please. Thank you

  • Jordan Patula
    May 21, 2014, 7:35 am

    My girlfriend is 16 years old her mother abuses her verbally mentally emotionally and physically her life is a living hell I need to get her out her mother has tried to strangle her in the past I’m afraid of her trying again she has tapes of her mothers out bursts we both want her emancipated so she can live with me in my own place which is being worked on at the moment but I want to know what’s the best way to go about this so that she would end up with me her counselor said the best bet was if she was pregnant would she go to me but I want to know what other options I want to see what else we could do before we do anything

  • Isabelle
    April 19, 2014, 3:17 am

    Hello, I am 15 years old and was hoping if it were possible for me to be emancipated. My parents are mentally, verbally, and occasionally physically abusive. They call me a piece of shit and threaten to punch my face in quite a bit. Today I was having a very bad panic attack and so my mother decided that slapping me in the leg multiple times would be a good way to solve it. My anxiety only worsened from there on out. A friend of mine’s parents have offered to let me live with them very many times and I would be very much okay with doing so. I’ve only been kicked out once and it was because my dad did not like my earrings. I then got in trouble for actually leaving after being told to leave. Help would be very much appreciated, especially if you could tell me how to afford an attorney and such, because I don’t have much of an income in my current situation. Thank you for taking the time to read this

  • winter
    April 11, 2014, 1:37 am

    Im wondering i can be/emancipated cause my parents blame me for my brother getting locked up and doing bad stuff theres always fights and i dont feel like they want me here any more they tell ne sometimes to leave they hate me…. do i have the right to leave and live somewhere else im 16 years old??????????

  • Cristalrose
    April 4, 2014, 5:48 pm

    Hi I’m currently 15 years old but I will be 16 on the 27th of April.. My mom had kicked me out but before she did she slapped me and threatened to punch me in the face. When I left she went to my work and made a big scene about me not allowed to work. I still went to work that same day. I still worked and she showed up again but really angry and it scared me because when she is mad she is very very emotionally and physical abusive and. I went into a panick attack She had my cousin come qnd get me to go to the police station and when we were in the same car and she kept calling me a slut and i didnt know she had a journal that i wrote and it was all the stuff i had done but truly rehretted andit was for my own privacy anyway long story short I refuse to go home because she will hit me when we are alone and nobody to help me my older sister has offered to take me in and I have family in Texas to take me but she keeps refuses to let me go. The situation is very bad and I feel I can be well on my own and I just need help if you could help me or email me to let me know I would be grateful it seems family services won’t help me nor my school and I dont know where to turn to so please help me

  • Andrea Lin
    March 27, 2014, 5:59 pm

    Hello, I am 16 years old and am currently living in a group home because my mom can’t take care of me. My mother and my step-dad are mentally and verbally abusive and in the past have been physically. Two years ago, my mom had moved my little brother and I out to Montana because she had gotten married without telling us. The man she married beat me and my little brother, along with his own kids. I had reported it and my little brother and I had our bio-dad come pick us up and bring us back to Minnesota. I lived with him for a year, then moved in with my aunt for a few months. After that, I moved in with another aunt and helped take care of her kids while she was at work. I was in school and getting good grades. Then on the night of my 16th birthday, my aunt came to the park drunk and I ended up calling the police. After that, I had moved in with my boyfriend a few miles away for a month. My mom found out and had told me that if I didn’t move in with her I would get reported in as a run away. Over the time up until then she didn’t call or try to contact me and my mother what so ever. I ended up moving in with her out in Montana for two months. Early January we came back to MN to visit the family and I had ended up running away for a few days. When they found me they admitted me to an inpatient psych hospital for two weeks. They then put me in a group home on January 27th and I’ve been there since. I’ve been planning on trying to get emancipated for some time and would greatly appreciate some advice and/or some tips on how to get emancipated. Please get back to me as soon as you can!

  • tempest
    March 14, 2014, 3:36 pm

    Okay I am 14 and my parent doesn’t like they way I am, and she is verbally abusive. So my question is at what age can I legally move to another residence(in Minnesota)? can I choose to live with someone other than my parents? Can I make them my legal guardian? Neither of my parents are willing to allow me to move, but I am mostly miserable everyday when I am home.

  • Kelsey
    February 23, 2014, 7:19 pm

    Hello, I am 17 years old and my parents got divorced about a year ago. I currently live at my dads house 95% of the time and he is emotionally and mentally abusive towards me on a regular basis. My mom is a struggling alcoholic and due to the issued divorce decree, I am only allowed to see her every other weekend, 12-5 and it has to be supervised. I am looking to start the emancipation process. I currently have two part time jobs and make my own money for everything I own, besides the home I live in. I also support my brother with the things he needs. My dad has threatened to kick me out of the house numerous times, knowing that I have nowhere else to go besides his own home. I am currently going to counseling and we have discussed myself getting emancipated but we didnt really know where to start. I am hoping that someone will be able to help me out with this! Thank you!

  • Tracy Farris
    January 29, 2014, 9:58 am

    Hello, What can I do to emancipate my 17 yr old niece I am her guardian but she has not lived with me in 3 years…Can I just give her a notarized letter stating she is emancipated as far as I am concerned?

  • Katfish16
    December 1, 2013, 4:02 am

    How can I get out of my house in Minnesota and give custody to someone in Washington? I’m sixteen my mom is physically and emotionally abusive she puts me in situations that she knows could harm me my whole family looks down upon me because I am from a different nationality and because I am the only one whose father skipped out on her

  • Not Putting, Sorry
    November 25, 2013, 6:01 pm

    I am 15 years old, and am mentally abused. I get called names, get in trouble for doing things that I don’t actually do, my mom gets child support that she spends on herself. We never have food at the house, I don’t have any clothes that I get from her, I get it from my grandparents who live close by.
    My mother is mentally ill, with depression, bipolar disorder and probably other things too, but not that I’m aware of.
    I have been depressed for about 8 years and suicidal for 7. Mainly because I just can’t deal with my moms crap anymore. I get made to feel like I’m not even worth the time to be around, because her phone, the computer and the TV are more important.
    I’ve never really been aloud to hang out with friends–the few that I have. I don’t have many because people hate my mom and don’t like how she acts to them or me, so they think that I’m like that too.

    I have just recently gotten a job, but have not started working yet, but I certainly do not have $3,000 for emancipation stuff, I just need to get out of there as soon as possible.

  • Deborah
    November 25, 2013, 8:19 am

    Hi, I’m 16 years old.. my parents have been divorced for as long as I can remember and I lived with my mother until I was 14, when she kicked me out of the house. Her husband was always physicaly abusive towards my brothers and emotionally abusive towards me. I moved in with my father when she kicked me out, but she shares joint custody with him. My brother father and I live in housing, and my dad can’t afford food, but he still constantly asks me for money. He doesn’t work, he sleeps all the time, he smokes pot, and he calls me names like a slut and bitch. I’m the only one that cleans the house, my brother doesn’t work either and he’s 18. I have a part time job but I can’t afford the court fees for emancipation, if I can get emancipated. Please get back to me!

  • lisa
    October 28, 2013, 12:32 am

    I am writing for a friend of my daughters. Her mother wants to emancipate her because she wants to move with her new husband. What is my daughter’s friend legal right to refuse? what is the financial obligation of the mother if she comes and lives with me? Can my daughter’s friend get a GAL?

  • krystal kelzer
    October 21, 2013, 2:53 am

    hi, I am 16 years old. things at home are getting difficult for me. my dad and stepmom can no longer afford my clothes and other necessities. except they can buy food of course. I do have a job but I do not have much hours. I have been trying to save my money to afford clothing but it seems that I do not have much after I pay for my phone bill. sometimes I have to pay for my lunch at school. and there has been times that I had to skip lunch. I know this seems ridiculous but need to get out of this situation. I am struggling in school because of other situations. I no longer have a safe haven to concentrate. my parents don’t pay much attention to me except when im in trouble. if I were t be emancipated, could I live in another state? or do I have to stay in Minnesota till after I turn 18? please don’t ignore this situation. I need help. and so does my boyfriend. his situation is worse than mine. please contact me soon. thank you.

  • Rain
    October 9, 2013, 2:21 am

    My name is Rain and I’m 17. I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail, but I’m having problems at home and I want (need, rather) to be emancipated. I understand it will be difficult, but I just have some questions. I’ll contact someone shortly after I talk to the school counselor and police officer unless someone else contacts me first. Thanks.

  • Maggie
    September 9, 2013, 8:47 pm

    This was extremely helpful and provided links to some great resources. Thank you.

  • Ashley
    September 5, 2013, 8:50 pm

    My mother calls me a slut, whore, heartbreaker, heartless, the B word, and so on with the verbal abuse and my father jut tells me to ignore it. It’s hard to ignore it when your mother is your biggest bully. I don’t drink, do drugs or party. I’m in college and I’m 16. Plus I’m a straight A student. She drives by places to make sure I’m there. She also has her friends call her if they see me anywhere. I can’t get away.

  • John
    August 1, 2013, 7:40 pm

    Hi I’m going to be seventeen in about a month and my mother has never taken proper care of me.
    My parents have been split up my whole life and I live with her. I used to live with my father but that was not an option because of physical abuse. It becoming harder and harder to live with my mother as well because of verbal abuse and neglect. She doesn’t pay her bills an we.were without power for a while and last summer she relapsed and I’m in constant fear that she will again. I have a friend that said that I Cam stay with them and their parents are ok with it. My mother is not. She said she would call the police. Can I move out?

  • Chelsea
    July 21, 2013, 4:29 am

    Sorry, I forgot to include my age. im currently 17. i will be 18 in about 8 months

  • Chelsea
    July 21, 2013, 4:26 am

    Hi, my name is Chelsea and I need to get out of my house. My mom and stepdad have abused me verbally for a really really long time, and now it’s turning physical. I’m scared of living with them and my dad doesn’t want me to live at his house because his job requires him to be out of town too often. However, I have friends who’s parents are willing to let me live with them until I turn 18. Can this be done legally? My parents don’t want me to leave. Please help

  • Cristal R.
    June 29, 2013, 6:36 am

    I’m 15 and I want to be emancipated when I’m 16. I don’t know if I can be emancipated at 16 in Minnesota but the reason I want to be emancipated is because I don’t want to live with my parents anymore I’m not sure if they will be okay with it or if they can afford it I need more information about it , please help

  • Cristal R.
    June 29, 2013, 6:27 am

    At what age can you be emancipated in the state of Minnesota.

  • Jennifer
    June 23, 2013, 7:02 am

    Sorry, it cut me off. As I was saying, I don’t receive an allowance, and my parents wouldn’t pay to get me emancipated. I also have no way of getting to the courthouse to get the OFP form I need. By the way, I live in Minnesota.

  • Jennifer
    June 23, 2013, 6:56 am

    I’m sixteen years old and I badly need to be emancipated because I am abused at home and I don’t want to go into foster care because I was in foster care as a baby and I hear about abusive foster homes and I don’t want to get hurt like that anymore. I can’t afford a lawyer or an attorney because I don’t have a job and I receive no allowance

  • Angelique
    June 21, 2013, 8:22 pm

    I’m 17 yrs old in a foster home and before I was sent here I was living with my boyfriend because my mom gave up on me because she was on drugs and I was doing really good living with him and his parents I felt like I belong there I felt loved and cared for I felt home but then everything went down hill and I know I can’t get emancipated in MN so what else can I do I NEED IMMEDIATE HELP

  • megan
    June 16, 2013, 6:16 am

    Hello, i am currently 16 years old. I live with my dad for the summer but my mom has full custody of my sister and I. My living conditions for me are unhealthy…my dad is an alcoholic (nonabusive) my mom and I don’t get along she always calls me names and sometimes pushes me around (not real abusive) I was wondering what I’d have to do to live on my own I currently make $250 a week and my boyfriend is 19 and lives on his own and said he would take me…I was wondering what I can legally do to move out of my parents and live with my boyfriend…legally.