Florida statutory law defines children as minors until they reach their eighteenth birthday.
In some situations, however, it is recognized that minors may become legally emancipated, i.e. treated as legal adults, either for certain purposes or for all purposes.
A minor child sixteen years or older may petition the court through a parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem to become legally emancipated for all purposes. If the court finds that the minor child is financially independent of the parents, emancipation will likely be granted. Emancipation immediately relieves the parents from all support obligations for the minor child.
Legal emancipation for certain purposes is also permitted under Florida statutory law. An unwed minor mother of any age can legally consent to medical care related to her pregnancy or for her child. A seventeen-year-old minor may legally consent to donate blood. A sixteen year old may legally sign documents necessary to borrow money for higher educational purposes. A minor of any age who is married or has been married is considered a legal adult.
In certain cases involving ongoing child support, the same Florida statutory law extends the age of minority beyond age 18. Child support payments must be continued on behalf of an eighteen to nineteen year old who is still in high school and performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduation by age 19. A court may require ongoing support payments for a dependent person beyond age 18 if the dependency is due to a physical or mental incapacity beginning before age 18.
If you or someone you know needs help with emancipation, please contact an experienced family law attorney.