Emancipation Laws: Rights of 16 or 17 Year Old in Arizona


Arizona law allows 16 or 17-year-old teens to seek emancipation, which grants them freedom from their legal guardian or parents. The process requires that the teen is self-sufficient financially and isn’t a ward of the court. Once emancipation occurs, the parents are no longer required to provide the minor with clothing, food, or health insurance.

Emancipation gives a teen some of the same obligations and rights as a legal adult, including full responsibility for causing damage to property and other criminal behavior. There are a few different options for minors who no longer want to live with their guardian or parents, including informally or formally going to live with relatives. In other cases, the teen is living in unsafe conditions at home and seeking a better environment through emancipation.

What is Required for Emancipation in Arizona?

  • 16 or 17-year-olds may request to be emancipated and must appear in court during the process
  • The judge will want to see proof that the minor has been living on their own or that their home conditions are unsafe
  • Written consent from your guardian or parents can support your wish to be emancipated and live independently from them
  • Even if your parents don’t agree with you being emancipated, you still may be able to achieve your goal via mediation or Social Services
  • Speaking with a family law attorney is helpful for teens seeking emancipation from their parents or guardian

In additional to proving financial self-sufficiency, the teen must show that they’ve been living without their guardian or parents for a minimum of three months to achieve emancipation. Alternatively, they may give a statement about why their original home isn’t safe or give a notarized form expressing permission from their parents for the emancipation. In the event that your parents don’t agree, you may have to visit mediation to reach a solution or have a judge decide for you.

Rights and Obligations of Emancipated Minors

If you’re granted emancipation, you’ll be legally considered an adult for the purposes of entering into a contract, the right to sell or buy real estate, the right to live on your own, to sue and be sued, and the legal duty to cover child support (if applicable). You’ll also be able to create your own debt, apply for loans, obtain medical records, and consent to mental, dental, and medical care for you and your child. As an emancipated minor, you can obtain social services, further your education, and perform certain services or operate certain equipment.

As mentioned, parents often allow their minor child to live with someone else, which is perfectly legal. However, if the teen’s life at home is dangerous or insufferable, they can seek out help in finding another living arrangement from the Department of Social Services. Just keep in mind that going through Social Services may involve a thorough investigation of the minor and family in question and could lead to group home or foster care placement.

Do I Have to Appear in Court for Emancipation?

A teen pursuing emancipation must receive an official decree, which requires going to court. If the judge chooses to grant the request, they’ll issue a court decree. Then, the newly emancipated individual can get a copy of the form to show to landlords, employers, doctors, or schools who ask to see parental permission.

Keep in mind that emancipation isn’t permanent, and you can only retain this status while living apart from your parents in a financially independent manner. If you decide to return home while you’re still a minor and allow them to financially support you, your status will change back to dependent minor instead of emancipated minor.

How Working with an Attorney Can Help

The emancipation process can get complicated, so consulting a family law attorney can be helpful in many cases. They will assist you in understanding your obligations and rights, as well as give you guidance on specific questions related to your case. If you decide to speak with an attorney, you can ask them about your best path to emancipation and whether you’re eligible for public assistance such as Medicaid.

Frequently Asked Questions on Emancipation in Arizona

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding emancipation laws in Arizona:

Q: Where do I apply for emancipation?

A: You must file your petition for emancipation with the superior court in your county. Ask them for the necessary forms to complete the process and ask if you must pay a filing fee. In some cases, the fee may be waived.

Q: What should I show the judge to support my request?

A: When you go to court, you must convince the judge that emancipation is in your best interest. The judge will consider your wishes and what your parents think about your request and look at your financial situation including your means of acquiring housing and health care. They will also look at whether you have a criminal history, your success at school, and whether you’re aware of the risks of being emancipated. You must also prove that your home conditions aren’t safe or healthy, that you’ve been living independently for three continuous months, or show written permission from your guardian or parents for emancipation.

Q: How does being emancipated impact my driver’s license?

A: Once you’re emancipated, your license will say “Emancipated Minor” on it. To get your updated license, bring your emancipation document to the DMV to get a new license.

What to Do if You Need Help

Emancipation is a suitable alternative to running away for many minors in the state of Arizona and works well as long as the teen in question is emotionally mature and financially independent. As mentioned, an emancipated teen can make their own medical decisions, sign contracts, and take out loans. Keep in mind that the process can take a bit longer if your parents don’t agree with your request for emancipation. If you need help, speak with a family law attorney today and get some answers to your questions.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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