Can a minor emancipate in Missouri?

| Jul 21, 2020 | family law

Many states allow minors to emancipate in certain cases, enabling them to behave and engage in decision-making as if they were legally adults. While Missouri state law does provide for the emancipation of minors, the situations where this is possible are very limited and usually require parental approval.

However, there are some circumstances where minors can become emancipated in Missouri. There are still more circumstances where minors can make decisions as legal adults without needing to emancipate.

Emancipating in Missouri

Eighteen is the legal age of adulthood in Missouri. For someone under 18 wanting to emancipate, you will need either express parental consent, implied parental consent or a significant life change such as marriage or enlistment in the military.

Implied parental consent relates to parents who abdicate their role by their actions or failure to act. For example, if parents are chronically and utterly derelict in their duties, leaving a minor to care for him- or herself, the minor may have sufficient legal cause for emancipation. To emancipate with implied parental consent, you will likely need to be already living on your own and supporting yourself.

In the rare case when a court adjudicates a minor as an adult for a crime, that minor becomes essentially emancipated for most purposes, as well.

Acting as an adult without emancipation

Minors in the state of Missouri have the legal authority to make decisions as adults in some cases without emancipation. These include certain medical treatments, especially treatments to address substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. However, with very few exceptions, minors will need consent from at least one parent to elect for an abortion procedure.

Minors also have legal authority to enter into some contracts. Most common among these are financial contracts for educational loans, but there are many situations when minors can enter into contracts for housing, banking, education, automobile purchases, emergency assistance and more. These typically depend on the unique situation, giving preference to minors facing a crisis such as abuse, abandonment or homelessness.