How-to Guide

Getting a Declaration of Emancipation

1. Fill out the forms
Print or type ALL of the information asked for.

  • Petition for Declaration of Emancipation of Minor, Order Prescribing Notice, Declaration of Emancipation, and Order Denying Petition (Form EM-100).
  • Only you can ask the court for emancipation. You have to tell the court where you will live. Remember to sign the petition and write the date.

Attach these forms to your petition:

  • Emancipation of Minor Income and Expense Declaration (Form EM-115);
  • Notice of Hearing — Emancipation of Minor (Form EM-109); and
  • Declaration of Emancipation of Minor After Hearing (Form EM-130).
  • Some courts have special, local forms, too. To see if you will need any special, local forms, contact your court clerk or check your court’s website. The forms may be posted on their site. If not, the site will list the address and phone number of your local courthouse.

You may have to pay a fee to file your petition. If you cannot pay, you can fill out forms to ask for a fee waiver. This will not affect your emancipation.

2. Write a statement
Write a statement to the court that explains:

  • How you live;
  • Why you want to be emancipated;
  • How you support yourself; and
  • If you have children, how you support them.

If you do not know where your parents or guardians live, tell the court when you last saw your parents and what you have done to find them.

If you do not want to tell your parents about the petition, tell the court ALL your reasons. You can ask the court for permission to not tell them.

Attach letters from your boss and your landlord if you want.

3. Have your forms reviewed
If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with emancipations, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

4. File the petition, other forms, and your statement
After you fill out all your forms and your statement:

  • Make copies of your forms and statement. Ask the court clerk in the county where you live how many copies of each form you need. Find the telephone number and location of your court. Also, make extra copies of the forms to keep for yourself.
  • Take the forms and the statement to the court clerk’s office in the county where you live.
  • Ask the clerk how your court handles emancipations. You must file in juvenile court if you are a dependent or ward of the juvenile court.

5. Get a hearing date (if needed)
In some counties, there is a court hearing for all emancipation requests. In other counties, a hearing is needed only if the parents do not agree (consent) to the emancipation or when it is not clear to the judge if you meet all the requirements for emancipation. If the court schedules a court date for you, you will probably have your hearing within 30 days.

  • Your hearing date information (if any) will be on the Notice of Hearing — Emancipation of Minor (Form EM-130).

If the clerk does NOT give you a court hearing when you file your papers, skip to step 7.

6. Give notice (only if you got a hearing date)
If you got a hearing date, you will probably have to give notice to your parents, guardian, or other people of the time and place of the court hearing. “Giving notice” means you will have to legally let your parents know (or other person the judge orders you to give notice to) about the court hearing. This is very important. The judge may not give you emancipation if everyone does not get notice.

  • To give notice, you must find someone 18 or older (NOT you) to send or give a copy of your papers, including the Notice of Hearing — Emancipation of Minor (Form EM-130) to the people the judge lists.
  • Then, the person who does this for you has to fill out a proof of service form (for example, Proof of Service (Form POS-040)); then give you the proof of service for you to file it with the clerk.
  • Click to read more about giving notice, also called “service.”

If you have a court hearing scheduled, skip to step 8.

7. Wait for the judge’s decision
After you file your petition, if you did not get a hearing scheduled right away, the judge has 30 days to:

  • Accept your petition;
  • Reject your petition; or
  • Schedule a hearing for your petition (if you did not get a hearing date already). You will have the hearing within 30 days. Go to step 6 if you get a hearing date to give notice of your hearing date.

If the judge makes an order (either accepting or rejecting your petition), the clerk will give you a copy of the judge’s order, stamped “Filed.”

If the judge accepts your petition without a hearing, you will get a Declaration of Emancipation Without Hearing (see page 2 of Form EM-100). You are emancipated! Skip ahead to step 10.

8. Before your court hearing (if there is one)
If there is going to be a hearing, you have to fill out a Declaration of Emancipation of Minor After Hearing (Form EM-130).

  • Fill out the top portion of the form and the judge will fill out the rest. Turn it in to the court clerk before your court date.
  • This is the form the judge will sign at your court hearing if he or she grants you the emancipation.

9. Go to your court hearing (if you have one)
If you have a court hearing scheduled, make sure you go to it. Emancipation hearings vary a lot from county to county. For your hearing:

  • Take any responsible adults you know that support your request for emancipation.
  • Be prepared to tell the judge why you deserve to be emancipated.
  • Be prepared to answer the judge’s questions about your plans for the future, your financial situation, your education, why you left home, and other questions about your request for emancipation.
  • Usually, the judge will make a decision at the hearing, either granting (agreeing to) or denying your request.

Read Going to Court for more information on how to prepare for your court hearing.

10. What to do if the judge says you are emancipated
After the judge accepts your petition, take your papers back to the court clerk’s office and file them. Do this even if you did not have a hearing. You will get copies of the Declaration of Emancipation. Make sure you get “certified copies.”  These are important papers. Keep them in a safe place. You may need to show your boss, landlord, doctor, school, or anyone else who asks for your parents’ permission.

If you want the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to know that you are emancipated, fill out Emancipated Minor’s Application to California Department of Motor Vehicles (Form EM-140). Take it to the DMV with a certified copy of your Declaration of Emancipation.