I have a run-away 17 yr old daughter. She wants to be legally emancipated and declared an adult. What are my options? If she gets a lawyer & does this, am I responsible for the debt incurred? Am I responsible for any/all expenses/accidents/crimes she may have in the meantime?
Trying to keep lines of communication open & loving. Met yesterday & thought she was coming home.
In what state, since not all states even allow emancipation.
We live in North Carolina. She will be 18 in April. I regret seeing her spend her college savings on legal proceedings when it may not even be legally complete until then. We have 6 internationally-adopted children, of which she is one. Two are in universities, and she & a brother are scheduled to begin a community college in the fall. We do not have money for "legal emancipation" and are concerned that we may be liable for any legal proceedings she begins.. We are also concerned that without that emancipation, we will be responsible for her, without knowing where she is or what she is doing. Please give wise counsel . Our hearts are breaking.
I will give you the NC code below, but if she can prove she is living on her own and able to support herself and has good cause for the emancipation she can apply for emancipation. She can get legal aid to assist her and depending on the case situation the court could make her pay, make you pay, make you split the court costs or even waive costs. The cost of any emancipation in NC is generally less than $500 if there is no contest and generally she can get legal aid representation. I know that this is not what you want for her, it would kill me too as a parent. However, fighting her would not help the situation either. If she is living on her own and able to support herself without governmental or parental assistance, the court can grant the emancipation.Once the court declares emancipation, you are not liable for her or her debts. Once the emancipation is filed, you would not be liable for her if the emancipation is granted, back to the date of the filing of the emancipation petition.Honestly, fighting with her over this is not going to help the situation. It is going to take her at least 3-6 months to get the hearing and order, which means by the time it is granted she will be only months away from 18 and being able to go off on her own anyhow. If you cannot resolve this rift with her and try to get counseling or someone to sit with everyone to negotiate it, I am afraid sometimes you just have to let go and hope that she will heal and come back.Here are the NC codes:§ 7B-3500. Who may petition. Any juvenile who is 16 years of age or older and who has resided in the same county in North Carolina or on federal territory within the boundaries of North Carolina for six months next preceding the filing of the petition may petition the court in that county for a judicial decree of emancipation. § 7B-3501. Petition. The petition shall be signed and verified by the petitioner and shall contain the following information: (1) The full name of the petitioner and the petitioner's birth date, and state and county of birth; (2) A certified copy of the petitioner's birth certificate; (3) The name and last known address of the parent, guardian, or custodian; (4) The petitioner's address and length of residence at that address; (5) The petitioner's reasons for requesting emancipation; and (6) The petitioner's plan for meeting the petitioner's needs and living expenses which plan may include a statement of employment and wages earned that is verified by the petitioner's employer. § 7B-3502. Summons. A copy of the filed petition along with a summons shall be served upon the petitioner's parent, guardian, or custodian who shall be named as respondents. The summons shall include the time and place of the hearing and shall notify the respondents to file written answer within 30 days after service of the summons and petition. In the event that personal service cannot be obtained, service shall be in accordance with G.S. 1A-1, Rule 4(j). § 7B-3503. Hearing. The court, sitting without a jury, shall permit all parties to present evidence and to cross-examine witnesses. The petitioner has the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that emancipation is in the petitioner's best interests. Upon finding that reasonable cause exists, the court may order the juvenile to be examined by a psychiatrist, a licensed clinical psychologist, a physician, or any other expert to evaluate the juvenile's mental or physical condition. The court may continue the hearing and order investigation by a court counselor or by the county department of social services to substantiate allegations of the petitioner or respondents. No husband-wife or physician-patient privilege shall be grounds for excluding any evidence in the hearing. § 7B-3504. Considerations for emancipation. In determining the best interests of the petitioner and the need for emancipation, the court shall review the following considerations: (1) The parental need for the earnings of the petitioner; (2) The petitioner's ability to function as an adult; (3) The petitioner's need to contract as an adult or to marry; (4) The employment status of the petitioner and the stability of the petitioner's living arrangements; (5) The extent of family discord which may threaten reconciliation of the petitioner with the petitioner's family; (6) The petitioner's rejection of parental supervision or support; and (7) The quality of parental supervision or support.
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Since the court ruling can go either way, I still need to know what I can do to protect myself/my family from financial ruin by her accidents / activities between now & when ruling is final.
Unfortunately, legally there is not much you can do for that, as she is still your responsibility by law and unless you grant legal custody to another adult willing to be responsible for her, I am afraid you remain liable for her. There are vehicles such as an irrevocable trust that can be used to protect any assets you have, but you claimed above you do not have any money, so if you do not have any assets of significant value the cost of setting up such a trust exceeds any protection you would gain from one. If you do have significant assets and property, then moving it into an irrevocable trust is how you protect them from creditors seizing the property since any assets in an irrevocable trust are not subject to seizure, levy or garnishment by law as those assets belong to the trust and not you personally.
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