Q- I just turned 16 and I want to move out of my parents house and take care of myself. Am I allowed to do this? I heard that you can but they say I have to stay home until I am 18.


A- You may be thinking of the legal process of emancipation. As children enter their teen years and gain more independence from parents, both may have questions regarding the process, legal requirements and consequences of emancipation.

Emancipation is a legal way for minors to become adults before they turn eighteen. Under California law, a minor may be emancipated by a court declaration of emancipation under the Emancipation of Minors Law , which provides that a person is an emancipated minor if they fulfill one of these three categories:

  1. The minor has gotten married with permission from parents and the court.
  2. The minor has joined the armed forces with permission from parents.
  3. The minor has received a declaration of emancipation from a judge.

California law states in order to get a declaration of emancipation from a judge, the minor have to prove ALL of the following criteria. The minor must be at least 14 years old, the minor must not want live with their parents and the parents do not mind if the minor moves out, the minor can handle their own money, the minor is employed and has a legal way to make money.

Once a minor is emancipated, his or her parents don’t have custody or control of him or her anymore and they can do some things without parental permission, including: get medical care, apply for a work permit, and sign up for school or college. However, an emancipated minor must go to school, must get parental permission before getting married, and will go to juvenile court if they break the law.  For more general information on emancipation, look at this pamphlet provided by the Judicial Council of California. Forms and instructions and general information about the process are available on the California Courts website.

If you are considering emancipation, check out this informative legal guide from Legal Services for Children. Legal Services for Children is an organization that takes calls from children and people calling on behalf of children. The person who answers the call cannot represent a child, but they can give advice and referrals.

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email sacpress@saclaw.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian