Emancipation means becoming free of control by another. When people talk about emancipation, they are usually talking about the emancipation of a minor. A minor is said to be emancipated when s/he becomes independent from parents or guardians.
In New Hampshire there is no law or rule allowing a minor to seek emancipation. A child in NH is considered to be emancipated at the age of 18. A child will also be considered to be emancipated when the child marries or enters the armed forces or military academy. These things would require the parent or guardian’s permission before the child turns 18.
Sometimes emancipation comes up when parents divorce. In those cases the court would look at the facts of the case, and the actions of the parties, and then decide whether or not to order child support for the child in question.
Sometimes a parent or guardian allows a minor to live independently. If this happens and then the parent or a state agency interferes or tries to force the child back into a guardian’s household, the child could ask the court to assist. In that case, the child would simply be asking the court to validate the circumstances that already exist, and to enforce the parent or guardian’s grant of permission. Such a situation would be VERY RARE and no child should consider this to mean that they can petition for permission to move away from their parent or guardian’s authority. Any child who thinks s/he is in a situation like this should discuss it with a lawyer first.
A child who is considered to be out of control and refuses to abide by the reasonable requests of their parent or guardian may have a CHINS petition filed against them in the District Court. CHINS stands for Children In Need of Services and is usually filed in cases where a minor child substantially refuses to abide by or follow their parent’s wishes, is a runaway, is chronically truant from school, etc. The CHINS petition allows the court to step in and evaluate the child’s situation and then order some recommended action to be taken by or for the child to correct the child’s misbehavior.
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This pamphlet is based on the law in effect at the time of publication. It is issued as a public service for general information only, and is not a substitute for legal advice about the facts of your particular situation.