Ask A Divorce Lawyer: What is required for my daughter to be emancipated?


I am a transsexual (woman/dad) and divorced. I have legal rights and visitation to my kids. My daughter, 15 years old with a baby, wants to emancipate herself from my legal rights and me. I agree to it but do not have a clue as to what to do. What do we need to do to get the ball rolling and finish this horrible experience?





Although I am licensed to practice law in Michigan and have studied emancipation laws, I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney in your state because I can only give you general information. You should not rely upon this information as creating an attorney-client relationship, and you should seek counsel in your area for further instructions and suggestions within the parameters of the laws of your state.

In most states, emancipation is a legal process by which a minor becomes an “adult” in the eyes of the law from both parents. That is, a minor cannot become emancipated from one parent (you) and not the other (your ex). If your daughter merely wanted you to lose your legal custodial rights, then your ex can request (and you can consent to) an order modifying your divorce decree so that your ex has sole legal custody and sole physical custody.

An emancipation case usually entails a motion for emancipation, which your daughter or an attorney on her behalf files, and a court hearing, during which the judge will take testimony and other evidence to establish that emancipation is in the minor’s best interests, that the minor is mature enough to be treated as an “adult” in the eyes of the law, and so forth, depending on the statute applicable in your state. These are usually fact-intensive inquiries, and your daughter’s pregnancy and assumption of responsibility for her baby will be factors to consider. You should consult with an attorney in your area to discuss what options, if any, you and your daughter have based on the particular orders and facts in your case.   


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.


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