Is a teen who is pregnant considered emancipated?

04/10/2007 - Category:Minors - Emancipation of Minor - State: WA #2921

Full Question:

If a 16 year old girl is pregnant, is she considered emancipated? If pregnancy does not automatically emancipate you, what procedure does one need to follow in order to get emancipated? Can a 16 year old who is pregnant legally choose to live with the father of the baby? Does pregnancy have an effect on emancipation?

Answer:

While getting married constitutes an emancipation, getting pregnant and having a child does not constitute emancipation. The difference, reason the courts, is that in the former situation, there is an intent to substitute the parents' support for the new spouse's support, while in the latter situation, there is no intent to rid oneself of the support of the parents. In fact, in most of these cases, the pregnant child continues to live with the custodial parent and continues to depend on support from the custodial and/or non-custodial parent.

Washington Emancipation Law (Section references are to the Revised Code of Washington).

Section13.64.010: Any minor who is sixteen years of age or older and who is a resident of this state may petition in the superior court for a declaration of emancipation.

Section13.64.020: A petition for emancipation shall be signed and verified by the petitioner, and shall include the following information: (a) The full name of the petitioner, the petitioner's birth date, and the state and county of birth; (b) a certified copy of the petitioner's birth certificate; (c) the name and last known address of the petitioner's parent or parents, guardian, or custodian; (d) the petitioner's present address, and length of residence at that address; (e) a declaration by the petitioner indicating that he or she has the ability to manage his or her financial affairs, including any supporting information; and (f) a declaration by the petitioner indicating that he or she has the ability to manage his or her personal, social, educational, and non-financial affairs, including any supporting information.

Section 13.64.030: The petitioner shall serve a copy of the filed petition and notice of hearing on the petitioner's parent or parents, guardian, or custodian at least fifteen days before the emancipation hearing. No summons shall be required. Service shall be waived if proof is made to the court that the address of the parent or parents, guardian, or custodian is unavailable or unascertainable. The hearing shall be held no later than sixty days after the date on which the petition is filed.

Section13.64.040: The hearing on the petition shall be before a judicial officer, sitting without a jury. Prior to the presentation of proof the judicial officer shall determine whether: (a) The petitioning minor understands the consequences of the petition regarding his or her legal rights and responsibilities; (b) a guardian ad litem should be appointed to investigate the allegations of the petition and file a report with the court.

Section 13.64.050: (1) The court shall grant the petition for emancipation, except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, if the petitioner proves the following facts by clear and convincing evidence: (a) That the petitioner is sixteen years of age or older; (b) that the petitioner is a resident of the state; (c) that the petitioner has the ability to manage his or her financial affairs; and (d) that the petitioner has the ability to manage his or her personal, social, educational, and non-financial affairs.

Section 13.64.050: (2) A parent, guardian, custodian, or in the case of a dependent minor, the department, may oppose the petition for emancipation. The court shall deny the petition unless it finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that denial of the grant of emancipation would be detrimental to the interests of the minor.

Section13.64.060: (1) An emancipated minor shall be considered to have the power and capacity of an adult, except as provided in subsection (2) of this section. A minor shall be considered emancipated for the purposes of, but not limited to: (a) The termination of parental obligations of financial support, care, supervision, and any other obligation the parent may have by virtue of the parent-child relationship, including obligations imposed because of marital dissolution; (b) The right to sue or be sued in his or her own name; (c) The right to retain his or her own earnings; (d) The right to establish a separate residence or domicile; (e) The right to enter into non-voidable contracts; (f) The right to act autonomously, and with the power and capacity of an adult, in all business relationships, including but not limited to property transactions; (g) The right to work, and earn a living, subject only to the health and safety regulations designed to protect those under age of majority regardless of their legal status; and (h) The right to give informed consent for receiving health care services.

Section13.64.060: (2) An emancipated minor shall not be considered an adult for: (c) those specific constitutional and statutory age requirements regarding voting, use of alcoholic beverages, possession of firearms, and other health and safety regulations relevant to the minor because of the minor's age.

Section 13.64.080: The office of the administrator for the courts shall prepare and distribute to the county court clerks appropriate forms for minors seeking to initiate a petition of emancipation.

Washington’s emancipation statutes explicitly state that the minor has no access to child support once emancipated. Once minors are emancipated they should be able to support themselves financially. The parents' control over their children is effectively destroyed by the court.



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04/10/2007 - Category: Emancipation of Minor - State: WA #2921

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