What You Need to Know About Oregon Emancipation
Emancipation in Oregon is allowed by ORS 419B.552 and ORS 419B.558. Emancipation is a legal mechanism to have a child 16 years of age or older declared an adult for most purposes. Unfortunately, the concept is often misunderstood by rebellious teenagers wishing to express their desire for independence from their parents, or a way for parents to possibly free themselves from the burden of raising an older child who’s difficult or disagreeable. As one can imagine, there are safeguards to prevent teenagers or parents from taking advantage of the legal mechanism so that children aren’t left vulnerable.
Upon the written application of a minor who is domiciled within the jurisdiction of an Oregon juvenile court, the court will be authorized to enter a judgment of emancipation. The juvenile court in its discretion may enter a judgment of emancipation where the minor is at least 16 years of age and the court finds that the best interests of the minor will be served by emancipation. In making its determination, the court shall take into consideration the following factors:
- Whether the parent of the minor consents to the proposed emancipation;
- Whether the minor has been living away from the family home and is substantially able to be self-maintained and self-supported without parental guidance and supervision; and
- Whether the minor can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court that the minor is sufficiently mature and knowledgeable to manage the minors affairs without parental assistance.
If the judgment of emancipation is allowed, the applicant shall be given a copy of the judgment. The judgment shall instruct that the applicant obtain an Oregon drivers license or an Oregon identification card through the Department of Transportation and that the Department of Transportation make a notation of the minors emancipated status on the license or identification card. The judgment shall further serve to:
- Recognize the minor as an adult for the purposes of contracting and conveying, establishing a residence, suing and being sued, and recognize the minor as an adult for purposes of the criminal laws of this state.
- Terminate as to the parent and child relationship the provisions of ORS 109.010 (Duty of support) until the child reaches the age of majority.
- Terminate as to the parent and child relationship the provisions of ORS 108.045 (Liability of stepparent for expenses of family and education of children), 109.100 (Petition for support), 419B.373 (Duties and authority of legal custodian), 419B.400 (Authority to order support), 419B.402 (Support order is judgment), 419B.404 (Support for child or ward in state financed or supported institution), 419B.406 (Assignment of support order to state), 419B.408 (Enforcement of support order), 419C.550 (Duties and authority), 419C.590 (Authority of court to order support), 419C.592 (Support order is judgment and final), 419C.595 (Support for youth offender in state financed or supported residence), 419C.597 (Assignment of support obligation to state) and 419C.600 (Enforcement).
Note that a judgment of emancipation shall not affect any age qualification for purchasing alcoholic liquor, the requirements for obtaining a marriage license, nor the minors status under ORS 109.510 (Age of majority). Also, an emancipated minor shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the adult courts for all criminal offenses.
As indicated above, there are great risks in being emancipated because the protections that come with being a youth are eliminated after the emancipation. The three biggest risks are: (1) your parents no longer have any legal duty to support you, (2) you are not fully liable as an adult for any contracts you enter into, and (3) you will be subject to the adult criminal justice system (as opposed to the juvenile delinquency system) if you are suspected of committing a crime.
If you are a teenager considering emancipation, if you are a parent wanting to emancipate your child, or if you are a parent who’s child has discussed wanting to be emancipated, discuss the matter with an attorney before proceeding.