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Emancipation: What You Need to Know

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1. What is emancipation?

Emancipation is the process of changing the legal status of a minor to that of an adult. According to the law, an emancipated minor "has the capacity to perform juridical acts of a person of the age of majority." That means that the minor can make legal decisions (like signing a contract) just the same as an adult. The parents of the emancipated minor no longer have any liability or responsibility. There are three types of emancipation: emancipation by marriage, judicial emancipation, and limited emancipation by authentic act. The law on emancipation is found at Louisiana Civil Code Art. 365.  

2. Are there different ways to get emancipated?

Yes, a minor can be emancipated in one of three ways-- through marriage, by a judge, or by an "authentic act."

Emancipation by Marriage: If a minor is married, he/she is fully emancipated. Emancipation does not terminate if the marriage ends in divorce. The law is at Louisiana Civil Code Art. 367.

Judicial Emancipation: A court may order full or limited emancipation of a minor aged 16 or older "for good cause." The judge decides whether there is a good cause to emancipate the minor. A full emancipation gives all the legal rights of adulthood to a minor, unless otherwise specified in the law. Limited emancipation only gives limited rights of adulthood. In a limited emancipation, the court decides which rights to give to the minor and if the minor stays legally a minor in any other ways. The law is at Louisiana Civil Code Art. 366.

Limited Emancipation by Authentic Act: The parents of a minor aged 16 or older and the minor may agree to a limited emancipation. All other aspects of being a minor remain. An authentic act is an agreement between two parties that requires no court hearing. The agreement must be signed in front of a notary. The law is at Louisiana Civil Code Art. 368.

3. What is good cause?

The judge decides whether there are good enough reasons to equal "good cause." There are several different reasons that the judge may decide are good cause.

For example:

Good cause for emancipation may be that the minor’s parents need to be protected. For example, if the minor has run away from home, the parents may want to stop their responsibility for the minor.

Good cause for emancipation may be that the minor needs to make "juridical acts." For example, the minor may operate a business and needs the right to contract with vendors or handle his/her own finances.

Good cause for emancipation may be that the minor’s parents set a “corrupt example,” “ill treat the minor excessively,” or refuse to support the minor.

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The Legal Education and Assistance Program (LEAP) is a project sponsored by the Louisiana State Bar Association, with the support of the Louisiana Library Association, the Law Library of Louisiana, LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and Acadiana Legal Services. LEAP aims to provide support and assistance to public librarians throughout the state by providing them with the tools to help their patrons with their legal questions. LEAP understands that librarians are prohibited from providing legal advice, but instead helps them provide legal information, including referrals to attorneys.