Emancipation is a process that ends the legal authority that a parent has over a child who is under 18 in Australia. Often referred to as a “divorce of parents”, emancipation involves a child becoming legally recognised as an adult, in the event the child is at risk of being harmed or has already been harmed by his/her parents. Naturally, the topic of emancipation is one that is clouded by many confusions and questions, some of which we aim to cover and clear up in this article.
Today, we dive into the top 10 questions related to child emancipation in Australia. If you or anyone you know is wondering how to get emancipated in Australia, we urge you to read on to find out more.
1. How Old Do You Have To Be To Quality For Emancipation in Australia?
In Australia, the legal process of emancipation is relevant only to children who are under 18 years of age. Children above the age of 18 are no longer considered minors, and as such, there is no legal process of emancipation in place. Thus, there are no provisions available in Children’s Court for emancipation in cases of adult children. If you are under the age of 18 and looking for more information on emancipation, we highly encourage you to reach out to an experienced family lawyer in Melbourne for further advice and assistance.
2. What Are Some Of The Reasons For Emancipation?
It is important to note that there must be a solid reason to apply for child emancipation in Australia. Generally, applications are made when a child is at risk of being harmed, or has already been harmed by his/her parents. Some other reasons why a child may seek legal emancipation include:
- Sexual abuse;
- Physical injury;
- Psychological or emotional neglect and/or harm;
- Emotional or Psychological harm or neglect;
- Physical injury or abuse;
- Child abandonment; or
- Death or incapacity of parents.
3. What Does Child Emancipation Entail?
It is important to note that the Courts place great emphasis on resolving the differences between a child and his/her parents. As such, it is generally considered the best interest of the child to have a relationship with the parents. With that in mind, some of the various types of orders that the Courts can make include:
Cases where the Court believes that the differences can be resolved:
- The child is safe to live with the family, and the State will help the family in resolving issues wherever required.
- It is safe for the child to live with the family, provided that an undertaking or a formal pledge is given.
- It is unsafe for the child to live with the family, and the child will be removed for a temporary period (up to 12 months). Once issues have been resolved, the family will be reunited.
Cases where the Court believes that the differences cannot be resolved:
- Issues cannot be resolved, and primary care of the child is awarded to a carer (ideally an extended family member) for an extended period of up to 2 years.
- Issues cannot be resolved, and a long-term carer will be appointed for the child until the child reaches 18 years of age.
- A permanent carer will be appointed to have sole parental responsibility for the child to the exclusion of all others.
4. Can Court Orders Be Revoked?
In certain cases, the above-mentioned child protection orders may be revoked in the event an appeal is filed. The Court will consider the appeal based on the best interests of the child. If the court is satisfied that revoking the order will benefit the child, then it will consider the appeal
5. Can I Get Emancipated In The Absence Of Physical or Emotional Harm?
Aside from the reasons listed above, a child may also seek emancipation in the event of irreconcilable differences, even when there is no prevalent physical, emotional or mental harm at play. However, it is important to note that when irreconcilable differences are the reasoning behind a child seeking emancipation, the Courts will require evidence of previous attempts to reconcile through the use of mediation and/or family counselling.
6. What If Mediation and Counselling Are Unsuccessful?
In the event that mediation and counselling are unsuccessful where a child is seeking emancipation due to irreconcilable differences, a Court hearing date will be provided to the parties involved. Once a court order is made and an application is heard and approved, the parents will no longer have any authority over the child.
7. Can I Move Out at 16 Without My Parents’ Permission?
There is no legal age for when you can or cannot leave home. However, it is important to note that under Australian law, parents have full parental responsibility for any of their children who are under the age of 18. Additionally, if you are under 18 years of age and there is a Court Order which says who you must live with or if you are on a Child Protection Order, this may make it more difficult to leave home.
If you do leave home before you are 18, Child Safety may investigate the reasons why you left home and in some cases, may apply to the court for a child protection order if they think you’re in need of protection from harm. Learn more about moving out if you are under 18 here.
8. How Can I Apply For Child Emancipation?
If the child wishes to emancipate from his/her parents, an application must be made to the Children’s Court. In such cases, it is highly advisable to seek advice and assistance from an experienced family lawyer who will be able to guide you through the process.
9. Can An Emancipation Status Be Reversed?
Once a minor is emancipated in Australia, he or she cannot revert to un-emancipated status. As such, it is imperative that children and parents attempt to resolve issues over seeking Court ordered emancipation. If you are considering seeking emancipation from your parents, take the time to consider this point completely. Emancipation means the end of any parental support in all forms – emotional, mental, financial and beyond. If you are not confident in your ability to provide for yourself as an adult, emancipation might not be the right choice.
10. What Should I Do If I Have More Questions About Seeking Emancipation?
Seeking emancipation can often be a very stressful situation that takes its toll on children and parents alike. If you have more questions about seeking emancipation or are looking for irrelevant resources and support, we recommend getting in touch with an experienced family lawyer who will be able to further assist your inquiry. If you are in need of mental health or emotional support, we urge you to seek professional advice from a trusted counsellor or mental health professional. Find out more about the resources available to you here.
And there you have it – the top 10 questions relating to child emancipation in Australia. If you or anyone you know is seeking emancipation, we highly encourage you to reach out to family lawyers who are experienced in handling legal matters related to emancipation and disputes within the family.
All the best, and remember – you are not alone! Help is available whenever and wherever you may need it.