Emancipation is a legal change when a person is lawfully considered an adult in certain ways. When a minor is emancipated, it means they are free from parental guardianship and are fully responsible for supporting themselves. In Colorado, the age of majority – or the age at which a person is considered an adult – is 18, but emancipation can ‘grant’ legal adulthood before this age.
Colorado has no particular emancipation law, but its courts have the discretion to emancipate a child under specific conditions. If you are a minor who wishes to be emancipated, or if you are a parent who believes that your child is up for emancipation, here is an overview of how the process works.
How A Minor Is Emancipated In CO
A minor can get automatically emancipated if they get legally married or if they join the military. However, each of these actions requires the consent of the parents or guardians.
If you wish to be emancipated without needing parental consent, you may go to your city’s family court and file a petition for emancipation. To be able to do this, you must meet certain requirements.
First, you must be a Colorado resident and at least 15 years old. Also, be prepared to show that you are not living with your parents anymore and that you are employed or able to financially support yourself. The court may ask for proof of income, confirmation from your employer, and the like.
After you have filed a petition, you will have to attend a hearing where you must establish that you are able to live independently. Further, it is crucial to demonstrate that you have full understanding of what emancipation means and what kind of impact it will have in your life. The judge will grant emancipation only when they see that it is in your best interests.
How A Person’s Independence Affects Child Support
Parents or guardians of emancipated persons are no longer obligated to financially support them. This also means that child support payments from a divorced parent can stop, even when the child is not yet 18.
Conversely, there are cases where a child’s independence is delayed and thus, the parents’ financial obligation is extended. One example is if the child is still trying to obtain a high school diploma past the age of 18. In this situation, the court may extend a parent’s child support timeframe until the child turns 21 or graduates from high school.
Other possible reasons for extending child support include disability or handicap of the child and the parents’ mutual agreement to continue the payments.
Financial and legal independence is a major factor in deciding the trajectory of one’s life. Emancipation opens up many opportunities but also creates crucial responsibilities. For a child eager to enter adulthood, this decision should be considered very carefully. And for a loving parent, it’s important to be prepared for their child’s decision regarding their independence. It would be wise for both parties to have the guidance of a family law professional in approaching this decision.