In our office we receive many calls and e-mails regarding when a minor can emancipate or when a minor will be considered to have been emancipated. In many of the cases, the e-mails or calls are from the unemancipated minor. We usually try to answer questions or send the inquiring person to some sort of summary of the law on this topic.
The following are some notes regarding Emancipation in Ohio:
Usually, a person is considered to be emancipated when he/ she reaches the age of 18.
Emancipation vs. Child Support Obligations
Emancipation may not stop a child support obligation, though, since child support obligations, in Ohio, go to age 18 and go beyond age 18 so long as the child being supported is continuously attending an accredited high school on a full-time basis.
Emancipation Issues Regarding Disabled Children
Child support will not go past age 19, though, unless the child (in most Ohio counties) is considered to be disabled and incapable of supporting himself or herself. There are a number of cases, in Ohio, dealing with the obligation of a parent to support a child who is disabled and dealing with the ability of a court to make child support orders in relation to that child, depending upon when jurisdiction is exercised by the court and in what county the case may be occurring.
Can one petition the court, in Ohio, to ask that he/she be declared to be emancipated?
The simple answer to this is, “no.” One might be able to do that in other states if jurisdiction were proper there, but not in Ohio. There is no provision for such an action in Ohio. Arguments over emancipation will usually take place in the context of someone’s child support obligations.
What happens upon emancipation?
Upon emancipation, the person is free to contract for himself/herself and is considered an “adult.” Upon emancipation, the person has the capacity, under the law, to enter into contracts, vote, etc. This applies even if the person is still attending high school.
Moving Out Upon Emancipation
Since the emancipated person is no longer a minor and is now an adult, he or she may freely leave his/her parents’ home and live on his/her own. The obligation to support a child does not “tie in” with whether the child is still living “at home,” and so, might continue after the child moves out.
Emancipation Through Marriage
Marriage may create emancipation.
Emancipation Through Having a Child
Having a child when one is under the age of 18 will not, in and of itself, create a status of emancipation.
Emancipation Through Joining the Military
You have to be 18 to join the United States military and usually must have both parents’ signatures approving your joining. There are exceptions to the “both” parents’ rule.
Emancipation will probably only occur before age 18, for someone in Ohio, if they marry or they are involved in some sort of action regarding child support. In most of the cases we have seen, where minors are asking about emancipation, we have noticed other Ohio attorneys (in on-line forums) advising the child to “hang in” until they are 18. Most of the questions about emancipation, which we receive in our practice, seem to be from 17-year-old questioners.
If a child is considering emancipation and has legitimate reasons to want to get out of the household but can’t technically emancipate yet, it might be a good idea for him or her to consult with a school counselor or someone from a church. School counselors or church counselors may be able to help the minor and the family find some sort of program which can help them through whatever is causing the desire of the minor to leave the household.
Exposure to any type of violence, drug abuse, or sexual abuse should be reported to the police and children’s services immediately.
William Geary is a family lawyer who has been practicing since 1979. He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, and also is a practicing member of the Ohio bar.