In 1980, Illinois state legislature passed the Emancipation of Minors Act which provides a legal mechanism by which mature minors may be able to become wholly independent from their parents or guardians and enter into their own affairs. Generally, it is up to the court that the minor has petitioned to decide if emancipation is in the best interest of the minor.
A mature minor is outlined in the statute as a person who is between the ages of 16 and 18 who can prove to the court that he is capable and willing to handle his own legal and economic affairs. Furthermore, it must be in the best interest of the mature minor to live separately and independently from his parents or guardian in order for emancipation to be granted. The act also attempts to address the plight of homeless minors who would benefit from emancipation because they would be able, with the permission of their guardians, to receive assistance, housing, shelter, and other services.
Termination of Parental Rights in Emancipation of Mature Minors
The emancipation of a minor will ultimately lead to the termination of parental rights of the parents or guardian of the minor child. The termination of parental rights is considered to be an extremely serious matter in Illinois, and the court will generally only entertain the emancipation of the minor in limited and narrow circumstances. Minors, in addition, have a significant number of obstacles when petitioning for emancipation and should not enter into it lightly. It is important to know that complete or partial emancipation of a minor will be barred in the event that a parent or guardian objects to the emancipation. A homeless minor, who has limited connection with his family, will only receive partial emancipation if consistent attempts to unify the family have been made.
Petition Process for Emancipation
The petition for emancipation of a minor may not be filed on his own behalf. Because of the incapacity of the minor to petition the court, the petition will need to be filed on behalf of the minor, either by a “next friend” or by the parent or guardian in charge of the minor.
The petition requires that the minor outline within the petition the following information:
- The minor's age,
- The minor's affirmed Illinois residency,
- The reason the minor is seeking emancipation,
- Information with regards to the minor's parents, and
- Any information establishing that he is willing, able, and capable to function and live partially or wholly independent from his parents or guardian and can manage his own affairs.
It is up to the court to ultimately decide if it is in the best interest of the minor to become emancipated or be reunited with his family and the court may decide to partially or wholly emancipate the minor. Partial emancipation will require that the court dictate the specific rights and responsibilities of the minor and the limitations of his emancipation until he is 18 years old.
Rights and Responsibilities of Emancipation
Emancipation gives the minor the legal right to enter into contracts, consent to medical decisions, and be financially and physically independent from his family. The emancipation ruling is subject, however, to the limitations created by the court until the age of 17 and the court will periodically check up on the minor to insure that emancipation is still in his best interests.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Naperville
If you are a minor or you are a parent of a minor who is interested in petitioning for emancipation in Illinois, it is important to understand the implications and consequences of emancipation. Termination of parental rights is a serious issue and one that should be evaluated and discussed with an attorney experienced in family law issues. An experienced Naperville family attorney will be able to answer any questions or concerns you have with regards to the rights and consequences of emancipation of a minor.