The Houston Family Law Blog

Minors Who Want Out: 3 Legal Options

Often 16- and 17-year-olds have a bit of trouble not wanting to throttle their parents or burst into tears from living under the same roof. (They wouldn't even let you go to Numbers the other night, gawd!)

If waiting for the hormones to simmer down is off the table, Houston-area minors may want to consider these three options to gain some autonomy:

1. Emancipation.

Generally, even if children run away to another household, parents are legally obligated to continue supporting and communicating with their children unless they've been legally emancipated.

In Texas, the law allows a minor to petition for emancipation if the minor is:

  • A resident of Texas,
  • At least 17 years-old (or 16 if living in a separate household from her parents), and
  • Self-supporting and managing her own finances.

A parent or guardian must verify the petition, or if they are unavailable, a court-appointed attorney may verify it.

2. Marriage.

Texas is one of several states in which a minor can get married at 16, which may be advantageous for youth wanting to cut ties with their parents.

Unfortunately for petulant eloping teens everywhere, a parent must give consent to a minor's marriage in order for it to be legal. Parental consent has to be given 30 days before she applies for a marriage license.

This may be an upward battle, since teens in these situations are not exactly in a strong bargaining position to begin with.

If a parent can be convinced to sign off on a minor's marriage, they will be automatically emancipated by law.

3. Join the Military.

A minor can also get an automatic emancipation if she joins the military. But the minimum age of recruitment is 17, and you also need parental consent to enlist at that age.

This will grant 17-year-olds emancipation from their parents, but they will have to submit to the requirements of the armed forces -- which may be slightly more demanding than their families'.

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