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Emancipation of a Minor in Tennessee

The State of Tennessee, like most states, does not consider someone to be an adult until he or she reaches the age of 18. Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor, meaning he/she cannot enter into a contract, vote, get married (without parental consent), or do a variety of other things that adults can do. The law does, however, allow a minor to be “emancipated.” If you are contemplating emancipation for yourself or for a minor, theadoption attorney Murfreesboro family lawyers at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explain the emancipation of a minor in Tennessee.

Why Would a Minor Want to Be Emancipated?

Emancipation is not just a shortcut to adulthood for every teenager who is tired of parents exerting authority over him/her. On the contrary, emancipation is a very serious legal process that judges do not take lightly and do not grant to every applicant. It is also important to note that while emancipation does remove some of the legal bars to autonomy for a minor, it does not grant a minor all the privileges of adulthood. For example, an emancipated minor cannot vote until he/she turns 18 and cannot drink alcohol until age 21.

There are several good reasons why a minor might want to pursue emancipation. Marriage is a common motivating factor. Although a minor can get married with parental consent at age 16 in Tennessee, marriage does not make a minor an adult. As such, even a married minor cannot sign a lease agreement or take out a loan to purchase a vehicle. Emancipation, however, will allow a married minor to be treated as an adult for most purposes. 

Another unique reason why minors often seek emancipation in Tennessee is to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Nashville and Memphis are both well-known in the music industry. Minors who want to enter into a recording contract cannot do so on their own unless they have been emancipated, providing another common reason for emancipation in Tennessee. In fact, Tennessee law is unusual in that it allows a minor to be fully emancipated or emancipated for a single purpose or transaction. An aspiring singer, for instance, might pursue emancipation for the sole purpose of signing a recording deal.

How Does Emancipation Work in Tennessee?

A minor cannot initiate the emancipation process in Tennessee. Instead, an adult (referred to as the “next friend” must file a petition with the Chancery or Circuit Court where the minor lives. The petition must include:

  • The minor’s complete name
  • The minor’s age
  • The names of the minor’s parents (or, if the minor has no parents, the names of two of the minor’s closest relatives)
  • The addresses of the minor’s parents (or relatives)
  • An explanation of why the minor should be emancipated.

A copy of the petition must be served on the minor’s parents (or relatives) who have the option to object to the emancipation.

After everyone has been served, the court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, the minor must convince the judge that emancipation is in his/her best interest. A judge may consider numerous factors when deciding if emancipation is in your best interest; however, some common areas on which a judge is likely to focus when contemplating a request for emancipation include:

  • Education. Will you graduate from high school or get a GED? Do you plan to pursue higher education?
  • Living conditions. Where will you live? If you are not married, who will you live with if you are emancipated?</li
  • Support. How will you support yourself financially? Do you have a job? Do you earn enough to support yourself?
  • Children. If you have a child, how will you support the child? Do you have childcare arrangements for the child while you work or who will help care for the child?
  • Emotional/practical support. Do your parents/legal guardians support or oppose your petition for emancipation? 

Contact Murfreesboro Family Lawyers

If you have questions or concerns about emancipation in Tennessee, contact the Murfreesboro family lawyers to discuss your legal rights and options. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Dinah Michael