TEXAS CHILD CUSTODY ISSUES
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Conditions of use: accepted & agree
Date: 28 Dec 2003
Remote Name: 184.108.40.206
Hire an attorney. Go to court. File for emancipation. Get the judge to sign an order. Actually, Texas does not have a law to give a minor “emancipation”. However, it does have a law called “Removal of Disability of Minority”, located in Chapter 31 of the Texas Family Code. A teenager (at least 16 years-old) can apply through a local court for certain types of legal restrictions to be removed so that a teen can act as an adult and make certain decisions on her own without parental involvement. However, for the purposes of providing this written information, we will call this process “emancipation”. A minor can also be given the rights of a legal adult through other means such as getting married and serving in the military. You automatically are considered a legal adult in Texas on your 18th birthday. It is important to know that unlike some other states, having a baby does not automatically emancipate a minor. However, Texas law does allow a teen mother to make all decisions regarding any child she decides to parent. Note: If you have become emancipated in another state through a legal proceeding, you may file a form with the local court in the county in which you live to have the State of Texas recognize your adult status. Emancipation is a process a minor undertakes if she has already been living apart from a parent or legal guardian has been financially self-supporting for a significant period of time and has a good reason to not have a parent be legally responsible for her anymore. If you have chosen to terminate your pregnancy and want to be emancipated in the future, I suggest that you participate in the judicial bypass process first. Emancipation allows a person to gain certain responsibilities of an adult. People are automatically emancipated when they turn 18 years old, gaining the rights and responsibilities of adulthood. However, 16 and 17 year-olds in Texas can be emancipated by a legal process known as “Removal of Disabilities of Minority.” Parents cannot get a child emancipated. When you are emancipated you have certain types of legal restrictions removed so you can act as an adult in society. There are also additional responsibilities acquired when you are emancipated. You must find you own place to live, maintain a steady income, and fulfill any contracts that you make. You will have to pay for your own health care and insurance. Your parents do not have to help you with money or shelter after you are emancipated. You are responsible for any debts or payment for any property damage. You may no longer be considered a juvenile in the criminal courts. The law that describes the requirements for an application to remove the disabilities of minority is located in Chapter 31 of the Texas Family Code. You must meet all of the following requirements before applying: 1. You must be living in Texas. 2. You must be at least 16 years old. 3. Your must be living separate from your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) (however, although this is a requirement if you are 16 years-old, this is not a requirement if you are 17 years-old, but is helpful in proving your case). 4. You must be self-supporting and managing your own financial affairs. 5. You must be able to prove that having your parents no longer be legally and financially responsible for you is in your best interests. As an emancipated minor, you can: · Live where you choose. · Sign binding contracts: buy a car or rent an apartment. · Keep your own income. · Get a work permit without parental consent. · Enroll yourself in school. · Sue someone in your own name. · Make a valid will. · Consent to your own medical, dental, and psychiatric care. · Provide a defense if you ticketed for a city curfew violation. As an emancipated minor, you will be responsible for: · Supporting yourself financially · Having a safe and stable place to live · Getting your own medical, dental and automobile insurance. · Paying all of your own bills. · Making sure your income is from a legal source. As an emancipated minor, you still cannot: · Smoke. It is against the law to possess, purchase, consume, or accept a cigarette or tobacco product until you are 18 years old. · Vote. You must wait until you are 18 years old. · Stop attending school. You must go to school until you graduate or turn 18 years old. · Purchase lottery tickets. You must wait until you are 18 years old. · Buy or drink alcohol. You must wait until you are 21 years old. Why would I want or need to get emancipated? There are many different reasons that teenagers want to be emancipated. Here are three examples of why teenagers may seek this type of legal action: 1. A 17-year-old with her own business (a landscape and maintenance business) wants to be able to sign a contract with a large apartment complex to get their business. She has been living on her own since 16. She is able to keep track of his bills and pays rent and utilities where she lives. She owns a car and carries auto insurance. She owns and maintains the equipment she uses for her business. Her mother is missing and her father lives in another state with his new family. 2. A 16-year-old mother who lives with a friend wants to be able to get into state housing but cannot sign the rental agreement as a minor is not allowed to make a binding financial contract. She receives enough money from welfare and child support to take care of her expenses. She really wants to have a place to raise her child. Her mother is deceased and her father threw her out of his home when she first told him she was pregnant. She wants to go back to high school, but she is not legally allowed to enroll herself and her father, still considered her custodial parent, refuses to do it. 3. A pregnant 17 year-old told her parents that she plans to continue her pregnancy and become a mother. Her parents are embarrassed by her teen pregnancy and are furious with her decision. They have been physically abusive with her in the past and are starting to act threatening towards her now. They want her to give her baby up for adoption, but she refuses. She considers having an abortion, but knows that it is not the right decision for her. She has held a steady job for at least two years and plans to graduate early from high school. She already has a supportive cousin with whom she can share an apartment. Her boyfriend has said that he is willing to help her by paying child support. How do I apply to have the disabilities of minority removed? (to become emancipated) In Texas, you must be at least 16 years of age and file a petition in the county in which you currently live and most likely will continue to reside. The petition needs to be verified (stating that the facts in the petition are true) by at least one living parent, legal guardian or managing conservator (this is usually done by one of these individuals signing the petition in front of a notary public). If your parent will not verify the petition, you can sign the petition before a notary public (a small fee and positive photo identification are required). File the petition with the district clerk of the court that serves the county in which you live (call your local library of you don’t know where that office is). If you did not get a parent or guardian to verify the petition, you may ask the clerk to have the court appointed guardian ad litem verify the petition. The guardian ad litem is a person (usually a lawyer) whose job it is to make sure your best interests are taken care of by the court. To make sure that a guardian ad litem is appointed in your case, you may file another petition requesting this. Appointment of the guardian ad litem is mandatory according to the law (Texas Family Code § 31.004). In your petition, you must provide information on how your parents can be found by the court to notify them about your intention to seek emancipation. If a parent is deceased, you must provide a copy of the death certificate. If your parent is in jail or prison, you must provide information regarding the facility’s mailing address and your parent’s inmate number. If your parent is missing, you must provide information of the last known mailing address of that parent (it may be necessary for the court to post a notice in the newspaper in the area in which your parent was to known to have most recently lived). A fee is required to file your petition. If you are unable to pay this filing fee, you may also complete a form that explains that although you are able to financially support yourself, you are unable to budget for extra fees towards a legal action (you sign this form before a notary public before you file your application with the court). Each county has a different filing fee system, so you will have to call the district clerk’s office to find out the costs of filing your petition. A hearing is usually set on the first Monday after 20 days after the petition has been filed. You will be giving the clerk information on how you can be contacted so you know when and where the hearing will be held. If the court has a difficult time finding one of your parents to notify about the legal action you have started, the hearing may be postponed until there is success in locating the whereabouts of that parent. If the parent cannot be found after a certain amount of time, the judge should set a hearing date for your case. Each living parent or legal guardian who still has legal responsibility of you will be notified of the legal action by the court. Each parent has the right to not appear at the hearing. If this is the case, you may have each parent sign a form waiving the right to appear and agreeing to the outcome of the hearing. If the case will be uncontested (your parent(s) will not fight you about your decision), you can file the petition on your own, called “pro se”, and you will not need an attorney of your own as you have the right to represent yourself. The court appointed guardian ad litem should give you enough legal support to complete the legal process. There does not have to be an agreement by your parent(s) for you to become emancipated. Each parent has a right to appear at the hearing and bring a lawyer for representation. If you know that your parent(s) intend(s) to contest (fight) the emancipation, you may want to have your own lawyer. If you are pregnant and want to become emancipated so that you may continue your pregnancy without facing parental harm or due to parental abandonment, you can contact the Jane’s DUE PROCESS hotline at 1-866-999-jane(5263) for a lawyer referral to represent you for free. If you are not pregnant, there are resources for lawyer referrals at the end of this page. At the hearing, you will need to give the court proof that the requirements for pursuing emancipation have been fulfilled. Examples of proof that might be needed are: · A note from a friend, relative or landlord telling the court where you live (separate from your parents). · Information about your job, pay rate, employment history, etc. Recent pay stubs will usually help. · Information about any financial assistance you receive, a court order for child support, welfare funds, etc. · Your plans for education and copies of enrollment, GED certification or high school diploma. · Your plans for other needs such as clothing, health care, transportation and recreation. A budget showing that you understand your financial status is helpful. · Special information about why it is best that you have adult rights and responsibilities. How does the judge decide whether or not to grant the petition? The judge will look at the petition, the information supporting the petition, and listen to anyone else who is currently responsible for you (like your parent(s) and the guardian ad litem) to determine if you meet the requirements of the statute. S/he will decide whether it is in your best interests to be emancipated. If the court decides that you should be emancipated, an order will be issued that will say that you have had the disabilities of minority removed. You can use this document to gain many of the legal rights of an adult. If the court decides that you should not be emancipated, you can appeal the decision to a higher court. The judge may also make recommendations for your care at that time. Sometimes a teenager is having trouble at home or feels as if she wants to be in charge of her own life. These situations might lead you to seek emancipation, but often there are other services that can help with family problems without having to make you responsible for your own financial affairs. Being an emancipated teenager is a very serious commitment and responsibility so you should carefully review your options. Emancipation proceedings are usually considered a last resort in solving family problems. Judges do not take the action of ending parental rights and responsibilities lightly. Q: My parents told me that they want to get me emancipated. Can they do that? A: No. There are parents who would like to have their children emancipated because it means that they no longer are responsible for providing for their child. However, applying for emancipation is up to you, not your parents. Q: Once I get emancipated, is it permanent? A: Not always. If a court emancipates you, the court has the ability to revoke your emancipation. This doesn’t happen very often. If you are emancipated through another method (marriage or joining the armed forces), your emancipation is likely permanent.
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