emancipation in Minnesota

Minnesota courts consider emancipation requests on a case-by-case basis. There’s no codified or clearly defined process for emancipation in Minnesota law, which is why it often helps to speak with a family law attorney or a lawyer who has helped minors with emancipation in the past.

Minnesota minors seeking legal independence can increase their chance of being granted emancipation by:

  • Getting a written letter from your parent or legal guardian agreeing to the emancipation
  • Speaking with a family law attorney and having a formal document drafted explaining in depth why emancipation is in your best interest
  • Collect evidence and documentation showing why emancipation is in your best interest
  • Provide proof that you are already self-supporting (living away from home, earn adequate income to support yourself, etc.)

What Is Emancipation?

When a minor seeks emancipation, they are essentially attempting to remove any legal obligation they have to their parents and vice versa.

Parents are legally responsible for their child’s welfare until the “age of majority,” which is just legalese for adulthood. Once a person turns 18 their parents are no longer legally responsible for their welfare and adult children are not beholden to their parents’ whims.

Parental guardianship is a two-way street. Parents are legally required to provide:

  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Basic care

Failing to meet the basic standards of care can result in criminal charges of neglect or abuse against legal guardians or parents. Parental neglect or abuse could also result in minor children being put into foster care or the care of another legal guardian (like a family member).

There are all types of scenarios where a minor in Minnesota may seek emancipation. Common causes include things like:

  • Fear of approaching parents with medical needs / disagreements on health care
  • Abusive or negligent parents
  • Parents with substance abuse problems
  • A parent’s serious physical or mental illness
  • Fundamental religious/ethical/lifestyle differences
  • Other potentially toxic at-home environments

When Are You Automatically Emancipated?

In Minnesota, you are automatically emancipated when one of the following events occur:

  1. Age: On your 18 birthday you are no longer a minor and have all the same personal freedoms as any other adult
  2. Military Service: Minors who are 17 and have a high school diploma may be eligible to enlist in the military
  3. Marriage: Minnesota increased the age at which you could get a marriage license from 16 (with parental consent) to 18 in 2020. However, out-of-state marriages of minors are recognized as valid.

Do I Have to Tell My Parents About STDs / STIs If I’m Not Emancipated?

No – there are a variety of health care services minors can receive without informing their parents or receiving parental consent, even if they are not emancipated. These include:

  • Treatment for venereal disease
  • Pregnancy care
  • Alcohol or drug abuse treatments

Are You Required to Inform Your Parents if You Want to Get an Abortion?

Yes – unless you are emancipated or petition for a judicial bypass you must inform both parents at least 48 hours prior to receiving an abortion. However, you do not require parental consent.

Abortion law and parental consent in Minnesota is a complicated and sensitive topic that’s not always comfortable to discuss, leading to a lot of misinformation and misunderstandings.

Informing parents isn’t always easy or straightforward. Either the:

  • Physician or an agent of the clinic must personally inform the parents
  • A notice is mailed to the parents at their home address with return receipt requested

If neither of those options is possible, or there are questions regarding legal guardianship or parental status of the minor, it can be difficult for a minor to get an abortion without emancipation or a judicial bypass.

There are scenarios, such as for victims of sexual or physical abuse, where parental notification can be waived if the proper authorities are informed.

The alternative to emancipation, a “judicial bypass”, involves a minor petitioning the court for permission to not inform their parents when they get an abortion. Whether you pursue emancipation or a judicial bypass, it’s likely in your best interest to speak with a family law attorney experienced in emancipation law or judicial bypasses.

One of our referral counselors can help you quickly schedule a consultation with a Minneapolis–St. Paul lawyer near you with relevant experience in cases like yours.

I Don’t Have the Money for an Emancipation Lawyer in Minnesota

Minors who believe they need to speak with a lawyer about emancipation or a judicial bypass should contact the Mid Minnesota Legal Aid’s Youth Law Project to find out if they are eligible for free legal assistance. Minors should also visit the Kids, Teens & School section of LawHelpMN.org for more information on your rights as a minor.

You can schedule a consultation with a family law attorney through the Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service by calling (612) 752-6699.