Emancipation of a Minor

“Emancipation” means that a minor has the same legal rights and obligations as an 18-year-old adult. It can also be “partial, conditional … or limited as to time or purpose.” Sonnenberg v. County of Hennepin, 99 N.W.2d 444, 447-448 (Minn. 1959).

A minor can be emancipated by a legal marriage or by parental consent. Lundstrom v. Mample 285 N.W. 83 (Minn. 1939) (marriage); In re Fiihr 184 N.W.2d 22 (Minn. 1971) (parental consent or act). For a child age 16 or older who is the subject of a “child in need of protection” petition, the juvenile court may authorize an independent living situation for the child that is the equivalent of emancipation. Minn. Stat. § 260C.201, subd. 1(a)(5)

Minnesota Statutes do not provide grounds or a procedure for emancipation, but the statutes reflect an assumption that minors may be emancipated. Examples include the following:

  • an emancipated minor may forego immunization because of religious belief (Minn. Stat. § 121A.15, subd. 3(d))
  • an emancipated minor is allowed to own a passenger auto or truck (Minn. Stat. § 168.101, subd. 1)
  • a legally emancipated minor is eligible for General Assistance (Minn. Stat. § 256D.05, subd. 1(a)(10))
  • an existing guardianship may be discharged upon a showing that the child is emancipated (Minn. Stat. § 260C.328)

Emancipation could be expected to occur (1) by reaching the age of 18, (2) by lawful marriage, or (3) by court order. The statutory references above do not indicate which, if any, of these is assumed to be the basis for emancipation.