Minor Changes: Emancipating Children in Modem Times

This Article reports on the use of still another mechanism for removing children in conflict with their parents: statutory emancipation, the process by which minors attain legal adulthood before reaching the age of majority. Statutorily emancipated minors can sign binding contracts, own property, keep their earnings, and disobey their parents. Although under eighteen, they are “considered as being over the age of majority” in most of their dealings with parents and third parties. Thus, while emancipated minors can sign contracts and stay out late, their adult status also means that their parents are no longer responsible for the minors’ support. To understand why minors choose to restructure their relationships with their parents and to redefine their status within society through the mechanism of emancipation, we undertook an empirical study on the use of emancipation in two northern California counties. The results of that study are reported here.