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Emancipation and Termination of Child Support in Orlando: Legal Considerations

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What Is Emancipation of a Minor in Florida?

Children are treated as minors in Florida until they reach the age of 18. In certain situations, however, minors may become legally emancipated. Emancipation allows a minor to be treated as an adult, either for specific or for all purposes. No child under the age of 16 is eligible for emancipation. A minor 16 years of age or older who is financially independent of his or her parents may petition the court to become legally emancipated. The effect of emancipation, when it is granted, is to give the minor child adult status under Florida’s civil and criminal laws and authorization to exercise the same rights and responsibilities as a person the age of 18 or older. 

What Is the Process for Emancipation of a Minor in Orlando?

For a minor aged 16 or older to become emancipated in Florida, they must be living in the state. The child’s parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem (an individual appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child) must file a petition with the circuit court. The petition must contain certain information, including:

  • Name, date of birth, address, and residence of the minor and each of the parents, if known
  • Information about any children born to the minor, including name, date of birth, custody, and location
  • Description of the minor’s education, income, habits, character, and capacity for business
  • Explanation of how the minor’s needs will be met, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and all necessities
  • Statement as to whether the minor is a party to any judicial proceeding pending in Florida or elsewhere or the subject of such a proceeding or any related judicial order
  • A statement as to why the court should allow the minor to become legally emancipated

The court will consider the petition and hear or receive any evidence deemed necessary to rule. If it determines that emancipation is in the minor’s best interests, it will issue an order “removing the disabilities of nonage,” which will give the minor the status of an adult. 

Are There Other Ways for a Minor to Become Emancipated in Florida?

Minors are automatically emancipated when they turn 18 or when they marry. Parental consent is required for anyone under the age of 16 to marry in Florida. There is one exception to this rule. If the minor who wishes to marry is female and pregnant, a judge may authorize the marriage. Once married, a minor is automatically emancipated. 

A minor who becomes the parent of a child is not automatically emancipated, but they may be treated as an adult for specific purposes concerning the child. These purposes may include seeking financial support for the child, consenting to the child’s medical care or adoption, and consenting to the mother’s own medical care during pregnancy. 

How Does Emancipation Affect Child Support Obligations?

Parents have certain rights and responsibilities under state law. Although both parents are responsible for providing financial support, one parent may be ordered by the court to pay child support to the other parent to help meet the child’s needs. The amount of child support is determined according to specific state child support guidelines

Florida uses an “income shares model” for calculating child support, which factors in the income of both parents, the needs of the child, the number of children involved, costs of childcare, costs of healthcare, and the schedule for time sharing. The amount of child support for a given number of children is determined according to a table of income levels, with certain expenses, such as health insurance, daycare, and taxes, included in the calculation. A family court may also consider other factors in determining child support. 

Under Florida law on enforcement and modification of support orders, a parent’s obligation to pay current child support ends when that child turns 18 or becomes emancipated unless otherwise ordered by the court or agreed to by the parties to a divorce. However, it does not remove the obligation to pay back child support or related costs. A party paying child support must continue making payments at the same rate that was in effect immediately before a minor’s emancipation until all arrearages, costs, and delinquencies are paid in full or until an order of the court modifies the amount. 

If child support payments are being deducted from a parent’s income at the time a child becomes emancipated, any amount more than the current support obligation will be credited toward any arrearages or amount owed. If an order to pay child support for more than one child does not allocate an amount per child, the obligation to pay current child support may not be reduced with the emancipation of a minor. 

Get Help from an Experienced Orlando Family Law Attorney

Divorce and family law is a highly specialized, ever-changing area of the law. At The Law Office of Erin Morse, we focus our practice exclusively on divorce law, family law, and estate planning matters. We have extensive experience handling child support cases, and we are knowledgeable about the effects of emancipation on child support obligations. Call us at (407) 743-6059 for skilled legal guidance and dedicated advocacy in all your family law matters. 

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