Emancipation in Missouri

Emancipation in Missouri is a process in which a minor can attempt to separate themselves from their guardians and be legally declared an adult. Read on for the complete guide to Missouri emancipation from Summer Masterson-Goethals, an experienced Missouri family law attorney.

Emancipation in Missouri

In Missouri, an individual 18 years of age and older is thought to be an adult. Those under 18, called “minors,” have very few obligations or privileges under the law and are limited in the medical decisions they can choose for themselves. Missouri’s emancipation laws allow a minor to petition the court to be approved the rights and duties of an adult. While no official laws describe the procedure or premises for emancipation in Missouri, emancipation is still a possibility under the common law.

Missouri Emancipation 

In Missouri, a minor can be emancipated in one of three ways:

  1. Explicit Parental Consent: The minor’s parents give their express consent to the court to terminate their parental rights
  2. Implied Parental Consent: The minor’s parents give their implied consent by permitting the minor to live on their own, support themselves, and have already given up their parental rights
  3. Significant Lifestyle Change: The minor has been married or has enlisted in the military

If you have specific questions about your Missouri family law case, the attorneys at Masterson Law can help.

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Age of Emancipation in Missouri

Under Missouri House Bill 309, a minor must be at least 16 years of age to be emancipated. 

Legal Age of Emancipation in Missouri

Emancipation in Missouri is generally not an option for minors under the age of sixteen. In general, minors under the age of sixteen can not be gainfully employed and are not likely to be able to support themselves. Missouri House Bill 309 outlines the following requirements for emancipation in Missouri:

A minor may petition the family or juvenile court of the county in which the minor resides or is temporarily domiciled for a judgment of emancipation. The petition shall set forth with specificity the following facts:

(1) The minor is at least sixteen years of age;

(2) The minor willingly lives separate and apart from the minor’s parents or guardian with the implied or express consent of the minor’s parents or guardian;

(3) The minor is managing his or her own financial affairs. As evidence of this, the minor shall complete and attach a declaration of income and expenses; and

(4) The source of the minor’s income is not derived from any activity declared to be a crime by the laws of this state or the United States.

If your family has questions about emancipation laws in Missouri and what might apply to your situation, we can help. Masterson Law has years of experience handling Missouri family law cases.

Emancipation in Missouri, Protective Orders, and Related Family Law Topics

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Missouri Emancipation Laws

Parents and legal guardians are responsible for their children legally and financially until they turn 18 or become emancipated. This responsibility consists of supplying food, shelter, education, and healthcare to the child. When a child is emancipated, they are accountable for all of those needs by themselves.

Emancipation Law in Missouri

Under Missouri law, emancipation allows an emancipated minor to have the full legal rights of an adult. An emancipated minor:

  • Can establish their own residence
  • Can buy and sell property
  • Can consent to medical treatment without parental consent
  • Can enter into binding contracts
  • Can enroll in any school and enter educational loan agreements without parental consent
  • Can work more than 20 hours per week
  • Can sue their parent or guardian for a tort
  • Can have their own motor vehicle registered in their name
  • Is entitled to their own earnings

Once a minor has been emancipated in Missouri, his or her parents or legal guardians are no longer liable for the acts of their emancipated child and are no longer required to financially support him or her.

Missouri Emancipation Law Exceptions

While emancipation in Missouri allows a minor to consent to medical treatment without parental consent, some medical issues can be seen by a medical professional without the consent of the minor’s parents. With no petition for emancipation, minors in Missouri may still be able to consent to medical treatment without adult permission for medical concerns associated with pregnancy, sexually transferred infections, or drug abuse. Additionally, a married minor who is not emancipated might be included in the joint ownership of property.

At Masterson Law, we understand these can be very sensitive issues. You can trust us to handle your situation with delicacy and respect.

The Emancipation Process in Missouri Can Be Confusing.

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Emancipated in Missouri

Although emancipation in Missouri is not something to take lightly, the emancipation process for minors who wish to be seen as legal adults is fairly straightforward. Of course, the advice of an expert family law attorney like Summer Masterson-Goethals may be helpful, especially if the request is challenged.

How to Get Emancipated in Missouri

A minor who is looking for emancipation in Missouri from their parents or legal guardians must initially submit a petition with the family court system. The petition should consist of a legitimate reason for the emancipation request, information about their existing living situation and evidence that they are or will be financially self-sufficient. The parents will then be alerted and can challenge the emancipation petition if they wish to.

Emancipated Minor Missouri

Minors who are seeking emancipation should anticipate going to a unique hearing where a judge will examine the evidence and decide whether to approve the emancipation based upon the minor’s best interest. If the court grants the petition, the now-emancipated child will be given a Declaration of Emancipation. Copies of this document will be required anywhere that adult approval would otherwise be necessary.

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Legal Age in Missouri to Move Out

Minors who are seeking legal and financial independence from their parents may be considering simply moving out as an alternative option to emancipation in Missouri. However, this may not be an option for most minors.

Teens who are seeking independence from their parents should contact a local family law attorney to help weigh their options and guide them through the legal process. 

Legal Age to Move Out in Missouri

Since the legal age of majority in Missouri is 18, the legal age for a young adult to move out from his or her parents’ home is 18. The only way a minor can move out without their parents’ consent is by becoming emancipated. A minor who moves out without their parent’s consent will be considered a runaway under Missouri law.

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Missouri Runaway Laws

Under Missouri law, a minor that runs away from their parents’ home without parental authority is considered a runaway. Once the minor leaves home, their parents can call the police and report them missing. While running away is not necessarily a criminal act, it is considered a status offense, which is a violation of the juvenile code which, if that same act were committed by an adult, would not be a violation of the law. The police will attempt to bring the minor home if he or she runs away. Repeat offenses may result in the child being held in a juvenile detention center. 

Teens who are considering running away have other options. Living on the streets is dangerous, and very few teens who have run away continue their education or find safe and legal work. Homeless teens often abuse drugs and alcohol, experience psychiatric and medical issues, and are victims of violent criminal offenses. 

If you are a teen who is considering running away from home, consider these safe, legal options instead:

  • Returning home: Often, runaway teens return home within a couple of weeks. If you have run away and require assistance to return home, contact the local police or a homeless shelter.
  • Guardianship: In guardianship proceedings, another adult who is not the parent of the child asks the court if they can have custody of the child until he or she turns 18. If the court grants the guardianship, the guardian will have much of the same obligations that parents typically have, such as providing shelter, food, and clothing to the child and ensuring that he or she attends school. In some guardianship arrangements, the child’s parents may still hold financial responsibility for the child.
  • Dependency: In dependency proceedings, the court is designated as a child’s guardian, and makes choices about the child’s living arrangements. Frequently, the court or the state’s child protective services department can supply family reunification services like therapy, or they can choose to place the child in foster care. They may also supply the child with a Guardian ad Litem Missouri
  • Emancipation: In emancipation proceedings, a child 16 years of age or older asks the court to make them an adult under the law, which implies that they will be accountable for all of their own needs. Youth who are interested in emancipation must reveal that the results of emancipation are in their best interest, that they can lawfully support themselves, and that they will remain in school or acquire a GED. Emancipation in Missouri requires that the child’s parents agree to emancipation.

The subject of minor emancipation can understandably be upsetting for many parents, who typically want their children to remain under their care for as long as possible. When the topic of emancipation is brought up by a teenager, it’s common for parents to feel as if their child is slipping away much faster than they anticipated. 

Family law attorneys like those at Masterson Law can help guide an in-depth exploration of emancipation with both children and their parents. An attorney consultation can either prompt teenagers to change their mind or further affirm their desire for emancipation. Regardless of the outcome, the guidance of a dedicated family law attorney can ensure that the emancipation efforts of the child proceed smoothly for all parties involved. Contact Masterson Law today for compassionate Springfield, Missouri family law guidance and representation.

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Summer Masterson-Goethals
Consumer and family lawyer, former legal aid attorney and Missouri Bar Leadership Academy member, Springfield Business Journal 40 under 40 Honoree. Site Map

Masterson Law
1771 S. Fremont
Springfield, MO 65804
(417) 522-1280

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