Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Emancipation of Minors in Texas

Teenagers frequently want to know at what age they may begin to live independently. Prior to 1973, the age of majority in Texas was 21 (and probably should still be, but that's a different topic). Now the age of majority is 18. Nonetheless, this is still a hot topic for young people.

The Statutes

A number of Texas statutes, federal laws, and constitutional provisions pertain to minors and prescribe the age at which people may start doing certain activities. For example:

  1. Living independently. Chapter 31 of the Texas Family Code explains how a minor can become emancipated. The legal term for emancipation is "removal of the disabilities of minority."
  2. Attending school. Children under the age of 18 must attend school, unless otherwise exempted, even if they are emancipated. (Tex. Educ. Code § 25.085. see also Tex. Educ. Code § 25.086)
  3. Voting. Persons under the age of 18 cannot vote. This is established by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted July 1, 1971.
  4. Drinking alcohol. The National Minimum Age Drinking Act of 1984, passed by Congress, requires a 10% reduction in highway funds for states that do not establish 21 as the minimum age for consuming and purchasing alcohol. In response to this act of Congress, Texas raised the minimum drinking age in Texas from 19 to 21 on September 1, 1986.
  5. Smoking. In Texas, it is illegal to sell tobacco products to a person under the age of 18, even if that person has been emancipated. (Tex. Health & Safety Code § 161.082)
  6. Joining the armed forces. The minimum age for joining the United States Military is 17, if the child has parental consent, or 18 without consent. This is established in Title 10 of the United States Code, 10 U.S.C. § 505.
There are other provisions that limit what emancipation brings to a person under the age of 18, but those listed above are the ones I am most frequently asked about.

Three Ways to Achieve Emancipation (Elimination of Disabilities of Minority)

1. Get Married

The Texas Family Code says that "a person, regardless of age, who has been married in accordance with the law of this state has the capacity and power of an adult, including the capacity to contract." (Tex. Family Code § 1.004). That is powerful language and suggests that the quickest way to emancipation is to get married.

But it's not that simple. That thundering language is preceded by the legislator's favorite catchall phrase: "Except as expressly provided by statute or by the constitution." That means that marriage will remove the disabilities of minority for purposes of allowing the minor to sue and be sued and to allow the minor to enter into contracts, including lease agreements. But the minor still can't legally skip school, vote, drink, smoke, or join the armed forces.

2. Obtain a Court Order

A minor can ask (petition) the court to eliminate the minor's disablities of minority. The procedure and standards for accomplishing this are set out in Chapter 31 of the Texas Family Code. This applies to minors who:

  1. Reside in Texas;
  2. Are at least 17 years old, or as young as 16 if the minor is living apart from the minor's parents, conservators, or guardians; and
  3. Are self-supporting and managing their own financial affairs.
When the minor petitions the court, he or she may do so under his or her own name. In other words, the parents/guardians/conservators of the minor do not have to initiate the lawsuit. However, the petition must be verified by a certain adult.

"Verification" means that someone has to sign a statement at the end of the petition wherein they swear or affirm that the facts given in the petition are within their personal knowledge and are true. The verification must be signed by a parent, conservator, or guardian of the child. If none of those folks can be found, then the amicus attorney (appointed by the court to represent the child) must investigate and verify the alleged facts.

The Court will appoint an amicus attorney to represent the minor at the hearing on this petition.

If a minor has a court order from another state, then subject to the limitations of that order and Section 31.006 of the Texas Family Code, that minor will retain his or her emancipated status in Texas once the minor registers the out of state order with the Texas courts.

3. Live to the Age of 18

Of course, this one seems obvious. But it's important to remember. Most of the inquiries I receive from minors who seek emancipation come from children who are already 17 and, on average, will be treated as adults for most purposes in just a few months. If you are going to be 18 in just a few months anyway, the burden of drafting a petition, paying a filing fee, getting an amicus attorney appointed, attending a final hearing, drafting an order, and getting it signed may be more than the benefit of early emancipation.

52 comments:

  1. Can an unemancipated 17 year old, living apart from her parents, with a one year old child, living with the father of the child and totally self supporting claim she is "common law" married to the father of her child?

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    1. No

      In Texas, we don't really have "common law marriage." We have "Informal Marriage" defined by statute.

      "A person under 18 years of age may not be a party to an informal marriage; or execute a declaration of informal marriage." Tex. Family Code Section 2.401(c).

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  2. My 17yr old daughter took off and is staying with a friend who is 19 and has her own house she has threatened her dad and myself with emancipation she will be 18 in feb she said the court told her she could bc my husband works 7 days on 7 days off however i am home everyday but i have a fulltime job is this true? My daughter is still in highschool a junior she has a job 3 days a week she makes 150 every 2 weeks we took her car when she left so she depends on friends for rides and has no place of her own she has a good home the only reason we have not had her picked up is we were trying to show her tough love and now shes threatning us with emancipation i just needed to know if she can do this and should my husband and i hire an attorney?

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    1. This is a difficult transition to endure. From your question, it sounds like on the one hand you want her to experience some of the hardships of the independence she demands yet you are not ready for her to have the court's permission to do so.

      I don't know when a 17 year old would have been talking to a judge, but let's assume she really did have a conversation with a judge. Here's what a judge would have told her:

      (1) She CAN file papers asking the court to emancipate her. We call those papers a "Petition for the Removal of Disabilities of Minority."

      (2) Someone has to "verify" the petition. That means that someone has to sign it for her and swear to certain facts: (a) her name, age, and residence; (b) the name, age, and residence of each of her parents; (c) the reasons why emancipation would be in her best interest; and (d) the reason emancipation is being requested.

      You and her dad are not going to sign a petition that says emancipation is in her best interest, so that should be the end of the matter. She could file a petition and say she doesn't know where you are in which case the court will appoint a person to look into her circumstances and see whether emancipation is in her best interest.

      What she's really threatening you with is "divorce" and, in Texas, children cannot divorce their parents.

      Moreover, the 19-year-old who is harboring her may face some legal consequences if you demand that your daughter return home, which you should.

      NOTE: You need to demand that she come home and you need to get into some family counseling as soon as possible. If you can't afford counseling, see what your church or a local church has to offer. Clearly there is a problem that has arisen between daughter and parents that daughter and parents have not been able to resolve. An outsider's fresh perspective may be helpful.

      BE CAREFUL: She may fight hard against the notion of returning home and might even allege abuse. Make sure that there is no truth to any abuse allegations before taking this to the police and demanding that she return.

      I'm sorry you are having to go through this. Good luck!!

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    2. i'm a 16 year old male teenager and i will soon turn 17 in september, i really need a way to move out my mom is a derranged lunatic and she tries to kick me out when i leave like she screams at me to do she calls the friendswood police on me saying i ran away she wont let me leave i need to move out is there a way i could be emancipated?

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  3. To file a petition for the removal of disabilities of minority, which is what you would file to ask the court for emancipation, you need one of your parents to agree that you are self-supporting and that emancipation is in your best interest. Clearly your mother is not going do this for you. If you file without a parent's signature (or verification), the court will appoint someone to look into your situation.

    It is not likely that the court would find it in your best interest for you to live on your own, which is a possible outcome if you are emancipated. The court MIGHT find that your living situation is awful and refer your case to CPS. CPS might try to get your mother into some counseling or they might try to remove you to foster care for your last two years of minority.

    It's really hard living with a crazy parent, but it's even more difficult living independently with no marketble education or skills.

    What is the situation with your dad? Can he take care of you? If so, you might be better off asking him to file a petition to take custody of you. If not him, then perhaps a grandparent or aunt or uncle might try to get the court to award them custody of you.

    Focus on getting good grades and getting into college. This will all be over sooner than you realize and you can leave in style if you've laid all the ground work.

    Good luck!!

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    1. i burned the bridge with my father unfortunately bcuz he used me for money by childsupport i had 2 insane parents for a while now im stuck with one i hav been talking to a close adult friend about my situation they simply said move out when u turn 17 ur mom will not b able to do anything about it is this an accurate statement?

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    2. Trevor: That is NOT an accurate statement of the law. You don't have the right to move out until you are 18 or otherwise emancipated, as this blog entry explains. I'm glad you checked on your friend's well-intentioned but inaccurate statement so that you don't get hauled to jail as a runaway.

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  4. How would be the best avenue for a 16 year to leave her father's house to move in with her grandmother? Emancipate? The father will not allow the mother ANY contact whatsoever.

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  5. Shane: If there are no orders in place, then the child's mother can come get the child anytime she wants, whether the father likes it or not. If there are orders in place, they most likely give the mother SOME possession time with the child--she should exercise those rights and, if the father refuses, sue him to enforce those rights. She will probably win and the father could go to jail either for criminal interference with possession or for contempt.

    As for the grandmother, the easiest way to go live with her is with the father's permission. He could sign a Non-Parent Relative Authorization form (http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Application/Forms/showFile.aspx?NAME=2638.pdf) which does not surrender any of his rights, but allows the grandmother to take care of the child.

    The next thing is that if the grandmother has some basis to assert standing, she could sue the father for conservatorship. Those cases are, as a rule, hard to win, but it is all about facts.

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  6. I'm 17, 18 in 7 months
    I want to be emancipated, and I take care of my personal affairs. Do you advise I hire an attorney? Or what? And how do I go about it? My parents agree that they want me out

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    1. How much would an attorney cost? Can I be emancipated before I move out to make the moving out process easier?

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    2. As a benchmark, I would charge about $1,250 plus the filing fee assessed by the District Clerk. Maybe attorneys in your area charge more or less.

      It might be a little easier for you to get an apartment lease and utilities if you are already emancipated. Frankly, I don't know the answer to that. HOWEVER, once you are emancipated, your family has no obligation to take you in if your experiment in independence fails. That's why I was suggesting that you try it for a month or two before cutting all legal ties to your parents.

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  7. James: If your parents will consent, then all you have to do is convince the judge it is in your best interest. You need to be able to demonstrate that you can support yourself. The most powerful way to do that is to actually support yourself. If your parents want you out, then get as good a job as you can (you may have already done this) and go ahead and move out. Start paying your own expenses and make sure you can make it work for a month or two.

    Once you've done that, file the application for emancipation. Hiring an attorney will make the process easier for you. I quickly scanned a few web sites and did not find any free forms for "Removal if Disabilities of Minority in Texas", but perhaps there are some out there.

    If you don't hire an attorney, the best bet for getting the paperwork right is to go to the county law library at the district courthouse and see if they have the Texas Family Law Practice Manual there. It's a set of 6 gray binders. The forms you want are in volume 6 as forms numbered 61-10, 61-11, and 61-12.

    Good luck!!

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    1. About how long will the process take? How much do you think an attorney would cost?
      Thanks for the help

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    2. Assuming both parents consent, you can probably be done quickly. I think technically you'd need to wait at least 45 days, but I also don't think many judges would hold you to that. There is a possibility that the judge would want to appoint an attorney ad litem to make sure this is really in your best interest. If so, that will increase the cost and prolong the duration of the case.

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    3. Would I be allowed to stay on my father's health insurance? Or do I need to find my own?

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    4. The Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") allows you to stay on your father's health insurance until you are 24.

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  8. I am 16 years old and am on probation. I am emotionally unstable living with my mom and grandmother. My mom's disabled, and I'm basically taking care of her. My dad is out of the picture. Is there any way I could ask for emancipation?

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    1. Dear Ms. Clary: For you to become emancipated, you will have to get your mom to agree OR convince the court that it is in your own best interest to live on your own. Frankly, I doubt that you can be successful based on the facts you've provided. You might see if CPS could refer your family for services, meaning help you and your mother get some counseling. Perhaps she could learn to lean on you less and you could find some support as you endure this painful situation. I'm sorry things are so tough on you and that your childhood has been taken from you.

      The court would probably think that emancipation would just trade one set of problems in for another. The better question is how to ameliorate your circumstances and get you and your mother some support.

      Best wishes!!

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    2. I turn 17 in 5 months, and get off probation in 6. Am I able to move out and live eith a friend if I have a job and can support myself? I've heard that the cops won't make you go home, but I've also heard they will. Which is true?

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    3. Dear Ms. Clary:

      You raised two issues.

      (1) Will the police make you return home? It depends on where you live. Some police departments will tell you that you have to go home (but they won't arrest you), others will report you to CPS, others will ignore the situation unless your parents complain. I can tell you that, under the law, if you move out without your parents' consent and without a court order, you and, more importantly, whomever you live with, may face criminal charges. It is not likely that the DA will bring criminal charges if your parents do not complain, but I can't promise you that it won't happen.

      (2) Can you move out once you turn 17 and get off probation? If your parents agree, yes. If you can convince the court to grant you emancipation, then yes. But if your parents don't agree and if the court does not grant your emancipation petition, then you will be a runaway. Your best bet is to convince your parents to just leave you alone. The fact that you are on probation for something suggests that you don't have your life under complete control and that is probably enough for a judge to deny a request for emancipation.

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  9. I just printed the Authorization Agreement For NonParent Relative Or Voluntary Caregiver form that you posted in one of your replies to another person. I have a 16 year old daughter whose father passed away in May. I allowed her to go stay the summer with her Uncle and his wife and now she does not want to return home. Due to her previous bad behavors of running away and such, I am considering allowing her to remain there and go to school. However, I am unwilling to give up custody of her to them or anyone else. My question is this. On page 2 of the form there are two check boxes, one says there is no court involvement with this child, the other says this child has been the subject of a court action. Since her father and I were divorced and I had custody (although she lived with him) I need to know which box would be correct for me to check. It is my understanding that since her father has deceased I would check the no court involvement but I need to make sure I do these papers correcty.

    Thank you so very much for the help!

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    1. Dear Ms. King:

      The statute (Tex. Family Code s. 34.003(6)) and the form make it clear that the agreement must state whether there is a court of continuing jurisdiction. The divorce matter would have established a court of continuing jurisdiction for your child when your divorce decree was signed. So we know that a court of continuing jurisdiction has been established for your child.

      Next, we want to know whether the court has LOST its jurisdiction over your child. Tex. Family Code s. 155.002 says that the court retains jurisdiction forever unless it loses or relinquishes jurisdiction. Tex. Family Code s 155.004 say that the only time a Court loses continuing jurisdiction is following an adoption, another court obtaining exclusive jurisdiction, or remarriage of the parties. Because none of those events has occurred, the court that signed your divorce would still be the court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction with respect to your child and, based on the information you've provided, I would suggest that you check the SECOND box ("THIS CHILD HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF COURT ACTION") and get permission from the court.

      I expect you could get permission quite easily by filing a simple motion and a simple order.

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    2. Dear Ms. King:

      Further to my response above, I wanted to share a little more detail with you in terms of getting the court's permission.

      1. Fill out the form and check the Second Box indicating the child has been the subject of court action.

      2. Draft a motion entitled "Petition for Approval of Authorization Agreement for Nonparent Relative or Voluntary Caregiver." As the court to approve the Authorization Agreement in the form attached to the Petition. File the Petition and your completed form with the district clerk.

      2. Draft a proposed order entitled "Order Approving Authorization Agreement for Nonparent Relative or Voluntary Caregiver" and in that order have the court find that execution of the agreement in the form attached to the petition is in the child's best interest, that no other party is entitled to notice, and therefore it is ordered that the court grants permission for to execute the Authorization Agreement in the form provided in Petitioner's petition.

      3. Once the court signs the order, then execute the Authorization Agreement.

      It's quite possible that the court will have no idea what you are asking for because these agreements are not as widely used as they should be and many judges have zero experience with them. Therefore, your petition and proposed order should make it very clear to the court what you are asking for, the legal basis for the request, and the legal basis for the court's authority to do what you are asking. I have done some searching for a free form for you to do that, but have not found one. If you'd like my firm to draft a petition and order for you, you can contact us at 972-985-4448. Legal Aid in your area might draft one for free, so check with them first.

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  10. My brother is 16 will be 17 in January. He wants to come live with me and my wife I'm 30 and she is 28 and we have 3 kids already I want him out of my moms home because all they every do is yell and take it out on my brother they never pay attention to him thats why he is never home plus to make things worse they live in a small 3 bedroom house which my sister being 32 moved in with her 3 kids because she got kicked out of her place plus my step dads father is living with them as well very tense over there sad to say I hate being around them all my life I felt with that and I don't want my brother going downthat road iI really want him to move in

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    1. There are four ways to do this:

      1. Emancipation: You've probably read enough about that on this blog to know that it will require a trial OR your parent's consent. The fact is that you don't really want emancipation, in the legal sense, what you want is for him to be able to live with you. So skip this option.

      2. Conservatorship: You MIGHT have standing to file a motion to obtain conservatorship of you brother. If you did that, you'd basically ask the court to all but make you his parent. The court might make your parents pay child support to you if you won the case. It would be an expensive case, though, and I don't know if you have the facts to prevail. You'd want to talk to a local family law attorney about that. Still not your best option.

      3. Agreement: You could try to get your parents to agree to let him move in with you. To protect yourself, the BEST way to do this is convince them to enter into a Non-Parent Relative Authorization Agreement. That gives him the ability to live with you and gives you the right to register him in school and take care of him. The down side is that your parents can revoke the agreement at any time, but why would they do that? This is a good option and you can do it without the help of an attorney. The State of Texas provides a free form at (http://texaslawhelp.org/resource/authorization-agreement-for-non-parent-relati/download/D81E28D2-9327-5A78-F737-54264A026485.pdf)

      4. Just do it: You could just let him move in with you. If your parents don't care, this is fine. The problem is that if they later decide to cause trouble, they could say he was a runaway and try to have you prosecuted. They would lose, but it would be an expensive hassle for you. You know them better than I do, so you can probably gauge for yourself whether this is very likely.

      On balance, I think option #3 is the best based on what little I know of your situation. Good luck!!

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  11. I have a friend that is currently technically living with his dad, unless hes a runaway. His dad tells him hes a worthless piece of s**t, good for nothing, sob, etc. He runs away to avoid the conflict, because police are always called when his dad tries to get physical, although it has not come to that yet. Police tell him to stay away from his dad because they "know" how his dad is. Various people, adults and children have witnessed & heard his dad saying these things. His dad constantly throws him out, waits a couple of days/weeks then "reports" him as a runaway. His dad hates anybody that tries to help the boy in any way being feeding/ clothing him or getting him to a counselor for help, including the boys own grandmother (the dads mother). He has said before, he prefers the boy to be living on the streets or locked up rather than with someone who is willing to "raise" the boy. He can not work because while he is/was under his roof the boy has tried getting jobs and the father sabotages any chance when the job calls and tells them "this is my phone, don't call my phone and bother me, call him", when they ask for his number, he says he doesn't have one, and hangs up. This sabotage has happened several times. Father will not give the boy his social security number nor his birth certificate to even look for a job so I know he probably wont qualify for Elimination of Disabilities of Minority. He has at least 2 adult friends that are willing to care and provide for this child, and raise him, and all they want is a guardianship paper stating they have power of attn. for school and medical needs. How can we help this child and the families willing to help him?

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    1. Dear Ms. Fuentes:

      You are a good friend to be looking out for this young man.

      There are a couple of things that can be attempted.

      1. CPS. If there is a serious threat to the child's physical well-being or emotional health, a concerned person can call CPS anonymously. If CPS finds that the child should be removed from the home, a close friend of the child's could INTERVENE in that suit and ask the court to let the child live them. This is a long process and is not guaranteed to result in the outcome he wants.

      2. SACR. A grandparent or other relative of the child related within the third decree by consanguinity can file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (Tex. Family Code s. 102.004(a)). (Here is a table that explains consanguinity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Table_of_Consanguinity_showing_degrees_of_relationship.png)

      The grandparents would need to be able to hire an attorney, file the lawsuit, and stick with it long enough to get the judge to make a decision, which could take 6 months or longer, depending on the facts of the case and whether the court orders a social study.

      Thinking through those two approaches is the best start. The first idea does not cost much if any money, but CPS is slow and you can't influence the outcome as much as you'd like. The second idea can be costly, but you can guide the lawsuit to a greater degree.

      Good luck!!

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  12. Our soon to be 17 yos has been determined for some time to be independent & fought our authority for yrs. He intends to leave home in a week to live in a town we lived in for a short time. He plans to attend school there and live with another family until he saves enough to get his own place. We agreed to emancipation which he hasn't started. ? - When he leaves, should we call to report him as a runaway? We are concerned of our legal risk of him being out of our home and something happening due to his actions. If he is going to be emancipated he needs to prove he can be on his own, but we are concerned that we could be at risk to be considered neglectful if we don't do anything. He is adamant that the cops won't do anything. I'm also concerned that if we report as a runaway, it could further exacerbate the situation and cause problems for him in the future on top of what he's already bringing on himself. We are ready to let him go because of his determination & refusal to respond to our authority. Counseling hasn't helped. At this point, there is still a relationship with him & another factor is that if we call the cops and go through numerous runaway situations it will further alienate him.

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    1. You will be legally responsible for him until he turns 18 OR is otherwise emancipated. Tex. Family Code section 41.001. There are limitations on your liability for damage that he does, but the limits are high ($25,000 per occurrence TFC 41.002).

      You would also be responsible for debts that he incurs for "necessaries." You might argue your way out of a debt he incurred for a car purchase (because he does not have the capacity to enter a contract) but you would not be able to get out of debts he incurred for food, medical help, shelter, clothing, school supplies, etc.

      So your legal exposure is significant.

      However, as you point out, you also have a significant family relationship problem. I don't know if any family counseling would help. My experience has been that when the parents and the children let the relationship get this out of hand, there are not quick/cheap/easy fixes. You end up having to decide between exerting your parental authority but alienating him, or letting him go and facing significant legal liability.

      As a fellow parent, not as an attorney, I would recommend that if you decide to make him come back, you get some counseling yourself first. Clearly, whatever you and he are doing is not working and an outsider might be able to give you some tips that would make the parent-child relationship less rocky until he turns 18.

      Gook luck!!

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  13. Mr. Daley - Thank you for all the comments and replies you have made to the general public here. It is very informative, and I appreciate that you take the time to answer the questions presented. I have a similar situation as some of the posts above, but from a parent perspective. I have a 16.5 year old son who has been arrested for simple assault 3 times, all of which were family violence arrests. He has been physically violent with both his father and I. He has been in and out of several in-patient programs, as well as spending almost a year at the Waco Center for Youth. He has diagnosed mental health issues, and continues to be aggressive and violent in our home. We are not the parents who have given up; we are the parents who give tough love, and have taken every opportunity given us. He has been in counseling, mental health re-hab, juvenile jail, and now he refuses to be a productive member of the family. He doesn't have a phone, game system, or a car. He is not a spoiled brat who is not getting his way. He truly is a threat to our home and 2 other children that live there. What, if any, options do I have as a parent who would like to emancipate their child? He was fired from his only job, and we have, up until this point, refused to let him run away and stay somewhere else. We really have tried everything, and I am afraid that his decisions are going to wind up having a horrible outcome on our family and the children who still live at home. As his parents, we would verify and consent that he would be better off as an emancipated minor. Even as I type this, I fear that there is no viable option until he is 18 and we can legally remove him from our home. Thanks in advance.

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    1. I can't imagine the grief you must feel in having to post a question like that. Sometimes good people face terrible problems.

      The court is not going to emancipate him just to clean up your house. The court will have to be convinced that emancipation is in THE CHILD's best interest. Based on the facts you've posted, I can't imagine that emancipation really is in his best interest, although I can certainly understand why you are looking into it. I just don't think you can meet the legal standard.

      If he is a physical danger to your family, you might consider another go-round of inpatient psychiatric treatment. Has he taken a drug test? I know you've tried a lot more things than I am going to think of while I reply to your post, so pardon my suggestions which you may have already exhausted.

      You may be down to prioritizing your outcomes and then solving for them one at a time. For example, your priorities might be:

      1. Physical safety of everyone in the house, including him.
      2. Emotional safety of everyone in the house.
      3. Financial protection of your assets
      4. Stabilizing his behavior
      5. Improving his behavior

      Then, under each item above, write down concrete, specific areas of concern and how you can deal with them. You might not have any realistic options beyond the first couple of priorities.

      Good luck!!

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  14. I am 17 years old and will turn 18 in one month. My parents are divorced and I would go move with my dad if this wasn't my senior year in high school. However I have chosen to move out from my mothers home. I left about 2 months ago. I am living with a friend and his parents. they are willing to let me stay with them until I graduate, but my mother is demanding that I come back home. I don't' want to as I am tired of fighting with her, she demands respect, but doesn't give any, and I have been belittled all my life. She is active duty military, as well as my step dad, and I am always being threatened to be moved to my dad's in Florida, but like I said I want to stay here and graduate. I am a baseball player and my mother is threatening to not allow me to play baseball my senior year, and I think the school may not have a choice in the matter if she says no. She has already gone to the school and spoken with the baseball coach. We have attempted counseling, but haven't made much progress, as she feels is it only up to me to make our relationship work, and she has lied to the counselor regarding several situations that have happened over these last few months. Our fights have gotten physical, but only on her part. I always leave before anything gets out of hand. The main reason I want to be emancipated is so that I can make my own decision regarding school, work and baseball, which I am hoping to get a scholarship to hopefully play college ball. She has threatened the family I am living with for interfering with a Texas penal code 25. regarding the custody paperwork between her and my dad, as she is the primary custodial parent, Would it be worth my time to file this paperwork and get emancipated? From what I have read above it may not be, but I definitely DO NOT want to go back home. I am going to school, and I just got a job, and just want to finish my senior year in peace, without fighting with my mom. I am not one of her soldiers.........I am her son. Not one time in the last 7-8 weeks has she attempted to come see me or to work it out, with the exception of one meeting with the counselor with both of us there. Any information regarding my situation would be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forgetting the legal standards, you'll be 18 before you could possibly get an emancipation suit filed and heard by the court.

      Once you turn 18, you can live where you want, even though you are still in high school. You can also make your own educational decisions. The statute that gives you the right to make educational decisions has a typo in it, but I don't think you'd have a hard time enforcing it anyway.

      One you turn 18, you are legally an adult. Good luck!!

      Delete
  15. I am 17 years old and will turn 18 in one month. My parents are divorced and I would go move with my dad if this wasn't my senior year in high school. However I have chosen to move out from my mothers home. I left about 2 months ago. I am living with a friend and his parents. they are willing to let me stay with them until I graduate, but my mother is demanding that I come back home. I don't' want to as I am tired of fighting with her, she demands respect, but doesn't give any, and I have been belittled all my life. She is active duty military, as well as my step dad, and I am always being threatened to be moved to my dad's in Florida, but like I said I want to stay here and graduate. I am a baseball player and my mother is threatening to not allow me to play baseball my senior year, and I think the school may not have a choice in the matter if she says no. She has already gone to the school and spoken with the baseball coach. We have attempted counseling, but haven't made much progress, as she feels is it only up to me to make our relationship work, and she has lied to the counselor regarding several situations that have happened over these last few months. Our fights have gotten physical, but only on her part. I always leave before anything gets out of hand. The main reason I want to be emancipated is so that I can make my own decision regarding school, work and baseball, which I am hoping to get a scholarship to hopefully play college ball. She has threatened the family I am living with for interfering with a Texas penal code 25. regarding the custody paperwork between her and my dad, as she is the primary custodial parent, Would it be worth my time to file this paperwork and get emancipated? From what I have read above it may not be, but I definitely DO NOT want to go back home. I am going to school, and I just got a job, and just want to finish my senior year in peace, without fighting with my mom. I am not one of her soldiers.........I am her son. Not one time in the last 7-8 weeks has she attempted to come see me or to work it out, with the exception of one meeting with the counselor with both of us there. Any information regarding my situation would be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please see above reply. The statute that I mentioned as having a typo is Tex. Family Code section 31.006. It says that upon emancipation you have the right to make educational decisions under Section 151.003(a)(10) of the family code. It should say 151.001(a)(10).

      Delete
  16. I am 16 years old currently living in Texas with my mother, her boyfriend, and my brother(who is 18) and sometimes his girlfriend and his daughter comes around to stay the night. My parents are divorced and do not get along. My mother and I do not get along either we fight all the time she has kicked me when i was 14, 15, and right before my 16th birthday. She does not work she gets money from my fathers retirement that he gets from the military. She asks my brother for money as well. I rely on my big brother for him to get me food take me to places because all my mother does is sleep all day and lay in bed. We sometimes never have food in the house so I have to wait til my big brother gets off work which is sometimes not until 6-8pm since he works 12 hours or more a day. She fights with me all the time threatening to kick me out all the time. Blames me for everything that goes wrong with her life. I have helped her when she had a hip replacement, nose job, and current she had surgery on her foot which I helped her with. She will not let me leave the house she has me on complete lock down 24/7 and when I do leave she calls my father saying she does not want me to live with her anymore. Her and her boyfriend fight all the time and I get brought into it which leads to her kicking me out. I graduated high school 2 years early and currently getting enrolled in college and looking for a job. She plans on going to back to England and I don't want to go and the way she talks to me is HORRIBLE. I do everything for her I clean the whole house I cook when we have food and I also look after my niece on top of everything else. So my questions are:
    1. Can I get emancipated?
    2. I do not have a car or license will that stop me from getting emancipated?
    3. My father lives 2 and half hours away and I cant move because of college.
    4. I turn 17 in July how long is the process?
    5. If I got her consent so she will sign it would it go faster?
    6. Do I need an attorney?
    7. How much does it cost?
    8. Could I have a roommate if i get emancipated?
    9. If i have sold proof of what goes on could that better my chances of getting emancipated?


    Thank you for your help!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Ms. Lopez:

      I am sorry that you have to endure such horrible circumstances.

      Let me respond to your questions in order:

      1. Can you get emancipated? The judge needs to know that you will be OK on your own and that you won't be a burden on society. Until you turn 18, get married, join the military or are otherwise emancipated, you parents have the legal duty to support you. If the court emancipates you before you have the ability to take care of yourself, the court will unfairly shift this responsibility to you and society at large. I know that sounds a little cold and calculating, but that's the role of the judge. You can get emancipated if you can show the judge that you are self-supporting and that it is in your best interest.

      2. Not having a car or license will not stop you. If you can walk to school and walk to work (or take a bus) you don't need a car.

      3. That's too bad. However, if he became the primary parent, he could stop paying child support to your mom and then he could help you with your expenses at your own place. You would not have to live with him, unless he forced you to.

      4. The process takes a minimum of 45 days just due to the rules of civil procedure. (TRCP 245 requires 45 day's notice of trial dates.) However, the judge will probably appoint an attorney ad litem to investigate your circumstances and make a recommendation to the court.

      5. Yes, much faster.

      6. Attorneys always make things go quicker and easier. But you have an absolute right to represent yourself.

      7. If you do not hire an attorney, you might be able to file an affidavit of indigency and it would cost you nothing. I don't know where you live, but in my area, I would expect to pay about $2,500 in attorney's fees if you hire an attorney.

      8. Yes.

      9. You don't need as much proof of how bad it is at home as you need solid proof that you are able to take care of yourself.

      Good luck!!

      Delete
  17. Im 16 nd Pregnant nd i turn 17 in 3mths my mama brought me to come live with my grandma and my dad just got out of jail and is staying with my aunt..they havent tryed to put me into school and i wanted try by myself but im to young..my granny has me on her food stamps an& never get me food to eat i only get food on my wic but her and my otha cuzin eat my stuff..n dont really eat nothing..n my granny also has her 25yold daughter n two kids stayn here in this two bed room apartment nd its crowded..nobody is tryin to help me get into school i wanted to do it myself but im not old enough.. &ididn want to runaway so i talked to my dad about moveing out and he said he dont care about me leaveing wen i turn 17 but my granny said i cant untill im 18..if i want to get emancipated at 17 do she have a say so or do my mom and dad do??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry to hear about your difficult circumstances. Your grandmother is correct that you are not legally able to make your own decisions until you are 18 or emancipated. Your father and mother are the ones who can agree with you becoming emancipated if that's what you want to do. Frankly, from your story, I don't think you can become emancipated because it does not sound like you are able to support yourself. You are in a sad set of circumstances, but CPS might be a better call to make than try to become emancipated.

      Best wishes for you and your baby!!

      Delete
  18. i am a 16 year old , my mom kicked me out of the house and i currently have not seen her in a week . how can i get emancipated ? i do not want to live with her .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To become emancipated, you are going to have to convince the judge that you are able to financially and practically take care of yourself. The process by which you do that is to file a petition for removal of disabilities of minority (that's the technical term for "emancipation" in Texas), convince the judge that you are self-sufficient, and then let the judge decide.

      If you have any close relatives or friends that you can stay with for the next 18 months, that would be a good place for you to go. The legal reason for that is that after 6 months, they can ask the judge to let you live with them permanently and they would probably win. That is better than emancipation, I believe.

      Good luck!!

      Delete
  19. Can a minor seek mental health care for herself in regards to an adoption? She is 17, living separately from her mother for over a year, has an 18 month old child, whom she is raising, and pregnant with a second baby. She is planning to place the baby for adoption. She has received medical care for herself and her child but would like to receive mental health counseling without her mother's consent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She has the right to seek mental health care, but the provider has the right to require at least one of her parents to consent. She won't be breaking any laws by seeking care, but she can't force the care provider(s) to treat her without parental consent. She probably has a good case for emancipation, but based on her age, she may very well turn 18 before an emancipation case could be decided.

      Good luck with the adoption--that is a difficult decision arising from an act of selfless love.

      Delete
  20. I am turning 16 and live in texas im tired of my step fathers verbal abuse and my mother never defending me i am the one cleaning the house cooking doing laundry ect ect they make me feel worthless is there any possible way for me to get emancipated if i want to move in with a friend that her family is willing to take me in and me get a job qnd continue going to scholl?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      I'm so sorry that you are having to endure this horrible treatment. Unfortunately, emancipation is only available to 16 year olds who are already living separate and apart from their parents AND who are self-supporting and managing their own affairs. The emancipation provisions of Chapter 31 of the Texas Family Code don't provide a mechanism for one to escape an unhappy household.

      Delete
  21. Hello,

    I have a question. I am a post masters student taking some classes for a health care administrator certification. I am currently in a health law and ethics course. I am currently working on a case study. I seem to be getting mixed messages about the legal rights of a married minor.

    Basically in my case study the patient is a 16 y/o minor who is refusing medical treatment, but she is married. Being married makes a minor in Texas emancipated, but does the spouse have legal guardianship over her? Could he make decisions on her behalf or does the mature minor doctrine apply?

    It would seem she is emancipated and can make her own medical decision however, Texas law (all law) is vaguely written for interpretive purposes. So I guess my question, is can the spouse of a married minor overrule the minors decision? Please advise. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Cort:

      Guardianship can only be court-ordered. Therefore, if no court has ordered guardianship, there is no guardian.

      Except as expressly provided by another statute or by the constitution, a person, regardless of age, who has been married in accordance with the law of Texas has the capacity and power of an adult, including the capacity to contract. Tex. Family Code section 1.104.

      I don't know of any statutory or constitutional impediments to a married "minor" making their own medical decisions. Some statutes specifically say that a married minor can make their own decisions, e.g. A person older than 16 or younger than 16 and married can consent to inpatient mental health treatment. Tex.Health and Safety Code section 572.001.

      You might also want to refer to Tex. Family Code 32.202 and Tex. Health and Safety Code 773.008.

      Therefore, I would agree that a 16 y/o who is or has been married is emancipated for general purposes and that a person who has been emancipated for general purposes can make their own healthcare decisions. Where I'd expect the most pushback would be from a provider who encounters a 16 y/o claiming a "common law" or "informal" marriage. It would seem that there would not be sufficient proof to give the provider the cover the provider would need unless one of the TFC 32.202 exceptions applies.

      Delete
  22. I want to be emancipated from my mom and stepdad. My mom has full custody of me. I have just been forced to move here to Texas from Colorado, where the rest of my family, including my dad and sister, live. I want to be emancipated and move back home. I am sixteen, I will be 17 in may. I am a junior in high school. Yes, I have boarding set up back home. I will just re-enroll into my old school when I get there. Is this legal for me to be emancipated?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The legal standard for emancipation in Texas requires you to be living apart from your parents and handling your own affairs OR being married OR being a member of the armed forces. You can't join the armed forces without your parents' permission and getting married at 17 is just dumb, so that leaves the issue of living "separate and apart," which you are not doing.

      However, once you have lived in Texas 6 months, Texas is the proper state for a lawsuit to change your residence. Your father could file a "Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship" and have it transferred to Texas. In that lawsuit, you could tell the judge where you want to live. Assuming your father's place is safe and healthy, the court would very likely let you go back and live with him due to your age.

      So, emancipation is probably NOT an option for you, but your father could come rescue you if he wanted to.

      Good luck!!

      Delete
  23. I am a sixteen year old girl; I will be 17 in May. I have recently been forced to move here to Texas with a mother that I really don't get along with, one of my sisters, and a stepdad in the armed forces whom I barely know. I would like to be emancipated so as to move back home to Pueblo, Colorado, where the rest of my family is, including my dad and my other sister. I do plan on re-enrolling in my old high school as soon as I get up there which would only take two days, as I do have a way of moving all my stuff back home. I do also have immediate board available. Is it legal for me to get emancipated?

    ReplyDelete