Arizona Passes Emancipation Statute for Minors

By Trent Wilcox, Esq.

 

It appears that Arizona finally has an emancipation of minors law.  House Bill 2428 was transmitted to Governor Janet Napolitano on April 13, 2005 and signed by her five days later.  A few highlights that I found interesting include:

 

 

 

1.                 A minor petitioning the court for emancipation cannot be a ward of the state or in the custody of any state agency.

 

2.                 The minor’s emancipation petition must be accompanied by at least one of the following:

 

(i) documentation that the minor has been living on the minor’s own for at least three consecutive months.

 

(ii) a statement explaining why the minor believes the home of the minor’s parent or legal guardian is not a healthy or safe environment.

 

(iii) a notarized statement that contains written consent to the emancipation and an explanation by the minor’s parent or legal guardian.    

 

3.                 The court may waive the initial filing fee for the petition, appoint a guardian ad litem for the petitioning minor, refer the parties to mediation, order Child Protective Services to investigate neglect, abuse or abandonment allegations.

 

4.                 An emancipated minor will then have much the same rights as an adult including the ability to enter into binding contracts and to sue/be sued in the courts.

 

5.                 Because the juvenile court is referenced, it appears that’s the Superior Court branch that will have jurisdiction over emancipation issues.

 

     

 

The text of the emancipation statutes, as found on the Arizona State Legislature’s website at http://www.azleg.state.az.us/, follows below:

 

 

 

 

 

12-2451. Petition for emancipation order; requirements; notification; representation; waiver of filing fees

 

A. A MINOR WHO WISHES TO BE EMANCIPATED MAY FILE A PETITION FOR AN EMANCIPATION ORDER WITH THE CLERK OF THE COURT IN THE COUNTY IN WHICH THE MINOR RESIDES IF ALL OF THE FOLLOWING APPLY:

 

1. THE MINOR IS AT LEAST SIXTEEN YEARS OF AGE.

 

2. THE MINOR IS A RESIDENT OF THIS STATE.

 

3. THE MINOR IS FINANCIALLY SELF-SUFFICIENT.

 

4. THE MINOR ACKNOWLEDGES IN WRITING THAT THE MINOR HAS READ AND UNDERSTANDS INFORMATION THAT IS PROVIDED BY THE COURT AND THAT EXPLAINS THE RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AN EMANCIPATED MINOR AND THE POTENTIAL RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES OF EMANCIPATION.

 

5. THE MINOR IS NOT A WARD OF THE COURT AND IS NOT IN THE CARE, CUSTODY AND CONTROL OF A STATE AGENCY.

 

B. A PETITION FILED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION MUST CONTAIN THE FOLLOWING:

 

1. THE PETITIONER’S NAME, MAILING ADDRESS, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER AND DATE OF BIRTH.

 

2. THE NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS OF THE PETITIONER’S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN IF KNOWN.

 

3. SPECIFIC FACTS TO SUPPORT THE PETITION, INCLUDING:

 

(a) THE MINOR’S DEMONSTRATED ABILITY TO MANAGE THE MINOR’S FINANCIAL AFFAIRS INCLUDING PROOF OF EMPLOYMENT OR OTHER MEANS OF SUPPORT.

 

(b) THE MINOR’S DEMONSTRATED ABILITY TO MANAGE THE MINOR’S PERSONAL AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS, INCLUDING PROOF OF HOUSING.

 

(c) THE MINOR’S DEMONSTRATED ABILITY TO LIVE WHOLLY INDEPENDENT OF THE MINOR’S PARENT.

 

(d) THE MINOR’S DEMONSTRATED ABILITY AND COMMITMENT TO OBTAIN OR MAINTAIN EDUCATION, VOCATIONAL TRAINING OR EMPLOYMENT.

 

(e) HOW THE MINOR WILL OBTAIN OR MAINTAIN HEALTH CARE.

 

(f) ANY OTHER INFORMATION CONSIDERED NECESSARY TO SUPPORT THE PETITION.

 

(g) AT LEAST ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:

 

(i) DOCUMENTATION THAT THE MINOR HAS BEEN LIVING ON THE MINOR’S OWN FOR AT LEAST THREE CONSECUTIVE MONTHS.

 

(ii) A STATEMENT EXPLAINING WHY THE MINOR BELIEVES THE HOME OF THE MINOR’S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN IS NOT A HEALTHY OR SAFE ENVIRONMENT.

 

(iii) A NOTARIZED STATEMENT THAT CONTAINS WRITTEN CONSENT TO THE EMANCIPATION AND AN EXPLANATION BY THE MINOR’S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN.

 

C. THE COURT SHALL HOLD A HEARING ON THE PETITION WITHIN NINETY DAYS AFTER THE DATE OF ITS FILING AND SHALL NOTIFY THE PETITIONER AND THE PETITIONER’S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN OF THE DATE AND PLACE OF THE HEARING BY CERTIFIED MAIL AT LEAST SIXTY DAYS BEFORE THE HEARING DATE. FOR GOOD CAUSE SHOWN, THE COURT MAY CONTINUE THE INITIAL EMANCIPATION HEARING.

 

D. THE MINOR’S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN MAY FILE A WRITTEN RESPONSE OBJECTING TO THE EMANCIPATION WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF SERVICE OF THE NOTICE OF THE HEARING.

 

E. THE MINOR MAY PARTICIPATE IN THE COURT PROCEEDINGS ON THE MINOR’S OWN BEHALF OR BE REPRESENTED BY AN ATTORNEY CHOSEN BY THE MINOR. IF THE COURT DETERMINES IT NECESSARY, THE COURT MAY APPOINT A GUARDIAN AD LITEM FOR THE PETITIONER.

 

F. THE COURT MAY REDUCE OR WAIVE THE FEE PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 12-284 FOR FILING A PETITION FOR EMANCIPATION OF A MINOR FOR FINANCIAL HARDSHIP.

 

12-2452. Additional court orders

 

A. BEFORE AN EMANCIPATION CASE PROCEEDS, THE COURT MAY STAY THE PROCEEDINGS AND:

 

1. REFER THE PARTIES TO MEDIATION.

 

2. IF THE COURT REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT THE PETITION CONTAINS AN ALLEGATION OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT, REQUIRE CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES TO INVESTIGATE THE ALLEGATION AND MAKE A WRITTEN REPORT OF THE INVESTIGATION TO THE COURT.

 

B. IF THE MINOR’S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN OBJECTS TO THE PETITION FOR EMANCIPATION, THE COURT SHALL STAY THE PROCEEDING AND REFER THE PARTIES TO MEDIATION OR ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION UNLESS THE COURT REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT MEDIATION WOULD NOT BE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE MINOR. THE COURT MAY CONSIDER ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

 

1. THE MINOR’S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN HAS BEEN CONVICTED OF ABUSE, NEGLECT OR ABANDONMENT.

 

2. THE MINOR’S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN IS NAMED AS A PERPETRATOR OF ABUSE, NEGLECT OR ABANDONMENT IN THE PROTECTIVE SERVICES CENTRAL REGISTRY PURSUANT TO SECTION 8-804.

 

3. ANY OTHER INFORMATION THE COURT DEEMS RELEVANT.

 

C. IF AGREEMENT IS REACHED THROUGH MEDIATION, THE PARTIES SHALL SUBMIT THE SIGNED MEDIATION AGREEMENT TO THE COURT.

 

12-2453. Factors; best interests of minor

 

A. THE COURT SHALL DETERMINE EMANCIPATION BASED ON THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE MINOR AND SHALL CONSIDER ALL RELEVANT FACTORS, INCLUDING:

 

1. THE POTENTIAL RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES OF EMANCIPATION AND TO WHAT DEGREE THE MINOR UNDERSTANDS THESE RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES.

 

2. THE WISHES OF THE MINOR.

 

3. THE OPINIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MINOR’S PARENT OR GUARDIAN.

 

4. THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES OF THE MINOR, INCLUDING THE MINOR’S EMPLOYMENT HISTORY.

 

5. THE MINOR’S ABILITY TO BE FINANCIALLY SELF-SUFFICIENT.

 

6. THE MINOR’S LEVEL OF EDUCATION AND THE MINOR’S SUCCESS IN SCHOOL.

 

7. WHETHER THE MINOR HAS A CRIMINAL RECORD.

 

B. THE MINOR HAS THE BURDEN OF PROOF BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE.

 

C. THE COURT SHALL FILE AN EMANCIPATION ORDER WITH THE CLERK OF THE COURT AND ISSUE A COPY OF THE ORDER TO THE MINOR AND THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITY OR ITS AGENT, IF THE MINOR IS A CHILD IN A TITLE IV-D CASE.

 

D. AN EMANCIPATION ORDER ISSUED BY A COURT PURSUANT TO THIS ARTICLE:

 

1. IS CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE THAT THE MINOR IS EMANCIPATED.

 

2. TERMINATES A DEPENDENCY ACTION AS TO THE MINOR BY OPERATION OF LAW.

 

12-2454. Effect of emancipation

 

A. AN EMANCIPATION ORDER ISSUED PURSUANT TO THIS ARTICLE RECOGNIZES THE MINOR AS AN ADULT FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES:

 

1. THE RIGHT TO ENTER INTO A BINDING CONTRACT.

 

2. THE ABILITY TO SUE AND BE SUED.

 

3. THE RIGHT TO BUY AND SELL REAL PROPERTY.

 

4. THE RIGHT TO ESTABLISH A LEGAL RESIDENCE.

 

5. THE OBLIGATION TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT.

 

6. THE RIGHT TO INCUR DEBTS.

 

7. THE RIGHT TO ACCESS MEDICAL TREATMENT AND RECORDS.

 

8. THE RIGHT TO CONSENT TO MEDICAL, DENTAL AND PSYCHIATRIC CARE WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT, KNOWLEDGE OR LIABILITY.

 

9. THE RIGHT TO CONSENT TO MEDICAL, DENTAL AND PSYCHIATRIC CARE FOR THE EMANCIPATED MINOR’S CHILD.

 

10. ELIGIBILITY FOR SOCIAL SERVICES.

 

11. THE RIGHT TO OBTAIN A LICENSE TO OPERATE EQUIPMENT OR PERFORM A SERVICE.

 

12. THE RIGHT TO APPLY FOR ENROLLMENT IN ANY SCHOOL OR COLLEGE.

 

13. THE ABILITY TO APPLY FOR LOANS.

 

B. AN EMANCIPATION ORDER ISSUED PURSUANT TO THIS ARTICLE TERMINATES A PARENT’S OR LEGAL GUARDIAN’S:

 

1. RIGHT TO THE EMANCIPATED MINOR’S INCOME.

 

2. FUTURE CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS RELATING TO THE EMANCIPATED MINOR.

 

3. TORT LIABILITY FOR THE EMANCIPATED MINOR’S ACTIONS.

 

4. OBLIGATION TO FINANCIALLY SUPPORT THE EMANCIPATED MINOR AFTER THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH FOLLOWING ENTRY OF THIS ORDER.

 

5. OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE MEDICAL SUPPORT FOR THE EMANCIPATED MINOR.

 

12-2455. Recognition of emancipation from another jurisdiction

 

THIS STATE SHALL RECOGNIZE A MINOR AS AN EMANCIPATED MINOR IF THAT MINOR CAN DOCUMENT EMANCIPATION FROM ANOTHER JURISDICTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND IS AT LEAST SIXTEEN YEARS OF AGE.

 

12-2456. Emancipation administrative costs fund; purpose; report; collection of information

 

A. EACH COUNTY TREASURER SHALL ESTABLISH AN EMANCIPATION ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS FUND CONSISTING OF MONIES RECEIVED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12-284, SUBSECTION J.

 

B. THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE JUVENILE COURT SHALL USE FUND MONIES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ARTICLE.

 

C. ON NOTICE OF THE PRESIDING JUDGE, THE COUNTY TREASURER SHALL INVEST MONIES IN THE FUND AND MONIES EARNED FROM INVESTMENT SHALL BE CREDITED TO THE FUND.

 

D. ON OR BEFORE NOVEMBER 15 OF EACH YEAR, THE COUNTY TREASURER SHALL SUBMIT A REPORT TO THE PRESIDING JUDGE THAT SHOWS THE AMOUNT OF MONIES IN THE FUND.

 

E. BEGINNING OCTOBER 1, 2005, THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS SHALL COLLECT INFORMATION RELATING TO EMANCIPATION OF MINORS PURSUANT TO THIS TITLE, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING:

 

1. THE NUMBER OF PETITIONS FILED, BY AGE AND COUNTY OF RESIDENCE.

 

2. THE NUMBER OF PETITIONS GRANTED, BY AGE AND COUNTY OF RESIDENCE.