Michigan Emancipation of Minors

Are you at least age 16 and want to know how you can become emancipated?

Become Emancipated — File a Petition

The Emancipation of Minors Act  MCL 722.4 requires that you file a petition.

What needs to be in the petition for emancipation?  Look to MCL 722.4a.

There is a pre-printed form for the Petition which can be utilized.  Visit Michigan Courts Self-Help; for their synopsis of what to do.  Whether you utilize the pre-printed form, or create your own, you must include the following in the petition:

~Your full name and birth date, and the county and state where you were born.

~A certified copy of your birth certificate.

~The name and last known address of the your parents, guardian, or custodian.

~Your present address, and how long you have lived there.

~A declaration (statement) by you stating that you have demonstrated the ability to manage your financial affairs.  You may include any information you consider necessary to support your statement, such as the fact that you established and maintain a checking and/or savings account and have done so for a sufficient amount of time; that you have a credit account at X store and you make your payments on time; that you have an account for utilities and rent and that you pay those as well; that you prepared a budget for yourself so that you can pay for goods and services you need, and that you have financial goals for your future; etc.

~A declaration by you (similar to the one above) stating that you have the ability to manage your personal and social affairs. Similarly, you may include in this section any information you consider necessary to support your statement, such as you have X responsibilities and you manage your time so that you can fulfill them; you are doing well in school as represented by your grades / progress reports (which you may attach); you are involved in X extra-curricular activities; you have a best friend that you have maintained for X amount of time; you attend church; you do not have a criminal record; you have had the responsibility of taking care of your siblings; you take care of your health; you attend your doctor and dental appointments; etc.

~You must also include an AFFIDAVIT (this is a sworn statement that will be signed and dated in front of a notary, which you can find at your bank — the notary does not have to read the document, but merely witnesses the signature) from one of the following, stating that the individual has personal knowledge of your circumstances and believes that under those circumstances, emancipation is in your best interests:

Physician, nurse, member of the clergy (priest, pastor, rabbi, spiritual mentor), psychologist, family therapist, certified social worker, social worker, social work technician, school administrator, school counselor, teacher, law enforcement officer, or duly regulated child care provider.

Once you have all this information included in your petition, you must sign your petition and verify that it is true, and have it notarized.

File the Petition for Emancipation in the Circuit Court

You must then file the petition with the circuit court in the county wherein you reside.  Once at the court house, you will look for the clerk of the circuit court’s office (versus the clerk of the probate court for example).  Be psychologically prepared.  In this attorney author’s experience, clerks are generally unhappy and therefore, resistant.  Don’t let this negativity bring you down.  Whatever they say, do your best to be positive in your desires, your opinions, and your rights.  Remember the clerk’s name, the time and date, and take notes about what happened when you have finished.

**Importantly, arrive with several extra copies of your petition so that you can have extras for your records and in the event you are required to provide copies “serve” (for more on “service of process” make a specific inquiry to LawRefs below or visit Michigan Courts Self-Help) your parents or guardian, and the individual who provided the affidavit in support of your case (physician, teacher, etc.).

***It is also important that you have the $150.00 filing fee.  If you cannot afford that, ask the clerk for an Affidavit of Indigency.  This is a form which you can immediately fill out and sign (in front of the clerk who is also a notary), and in which you provide your income and expenses and request that the court to waive the filing fee because you cannot afford it.

The clerk will give you a hearing date.  YOU SHOULD ASK FOR AN ATTORNEY TO BE APPOINTED FOR YOU.  MCL 722.4b provides that after a petition is filed, the court may appoint legal counsel for the minor.  If an attorney is not immediately appointed, then call the judge’s office and tell the judge’s staff that you want an attorney appointed for you.  If you do not get one then, you should ask for one at the start your hearing.

After the Petition for Emancipation is Filed

MCL 722.4b provides that after a petition is filed, the court may do 1 or more of the following:

(b) appoint legal counsel for the minor;
(c) appoint legal counsel for the minor’s parents or guardian if they are indigent and if they oppose the petition; and/or
(d) dismiss the petition if the minor’s custodial parent does not consent and is providing support.

So, this brings forth the question of who is providing most of your support.  If it isn’t you, then this could be unfavorable.  However, if you feel strongly that it is in your best interests to become emancipated, move forward despite any odds, as you must do what is best for you.

A hearing will be held.  If you request that a judge hear the matter, then a judge will hear the matter.  (See MCL 722.4c.)  If you do not, then you will likely have a referee hear the matter.  I suggest that you request a judge over a referee who may not have as much experience.

If you establish at the hearing all of the following by a preponderance of the evidence, and the court determines it is in your best interest, the court “SHALL” (is required to) issue an emancipation order:

(1) Your parent or guardian does not object; or if they do, that the one who objects, does not provide you support;

(2) That you are at least age 16;

(3) That you are resident of Michigan;

(4) That you have demonstrated the ability to manage your financial affairs, including proof of employment or other means of support.  “Other means of support” does not include general assistance or aid to families with dependent children administered under the social welfare act, Act No. 280 of the Public Acts of 1939, being sections 400.1 to 400.121 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.

(5) That you have the ability to manage your personal and social affairs, including, but not limited to, proof of housing.

(6) That you understand your rights and responsibilities under the Emancipation of Minors Act as an emancipated minor.

A skillful attorney can call your parents to the witness stand and walk them down a path at the end of which they have to agree with your petition.  For example, a skillful attorney may set the following scene for the objecting parent on the witness stand:

There are some times when a parent really knows what is right for the child, like when they are toddlers.  The right or wrong choice during those times is obvious, like a traffic signal at which red means “stop”, and green means “go”.  You remember times like that, don’t you?  When the child gets older, like your child is now, the signal isn’t as clear, it is more like a yellow light.  This may be how you are feeling, right?  But when you have a child like yours, the answer becomes more clear, and you can see that it is time to provide your child this opportunity.  Don’t you agree, Mrs. X (parent)?  Yes, I agree.

Carefully consider whether emancipation is the right path for you before you start your journey.  If it turns out that you are not responsible and you cannot support yourself, then your parents can petition the court to rescind the emancipation.  A return to your parents custody, control and support, could feel like one step forward having been taken, but resulting in two steps back. Yet, even if that happens, keep your chin up. You can recreate yourself at any moment.

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