A minor can ask (petition) the court to eliminate the minor's disabilities of minority. The procedure and standards for accomplishing this are set out in Chapter 31 of the Texas Family Code. This applies to minors who:
- Reside in Texas;
- Are at least 17 years old, or as young as 16 if the minor is living apart from the minor's parents, conservators, or guardians; and
- Are self-supporting and managing their own financial affairs.
When the minor petitions the court, he or she may do so under his or her own name. In other words, the parents/guardians/conservators of the minor do not have to initiate the lawsuit. However, the petition must be verified by a certain adult.
"Verification" means that someone has to sign a statement at the end of the petition wherein they swear or affirm that the facts given in the petition are within their personal knowledge and are true. The verification must be signed by a parent, conservator, or guardian of the child. If none of those folks can be found, then the amicus attorney (appointed by the court to represent the child) must investigate and verify the alleged facts.
The Court will appoint an amicus attorney to represent the minor at the hearing on this petition.
Also, children under the age of 18 MUST attend school, even if they are legally emancipated.
In reality, the 17 year old child will become able to leave home at age 18. If the child is going to be 18 in just a few months anyway, the time to draft a legal petition, the paying a filing fee, getting an amicus attorney appointed, attending a final hearing, drafting an order, and getting it signed may be costly and may not even occur until the child is 18. If your daughter is self supporting and can manage her own financial affairs, she should know that it will take more time and effort to become emancipated than it will to wait the few months until she turns 18.
If you have physical custody of your daughter, then your ex would have to file a Petition for Change of Custody and state the reasons why your daughter should live with him. While the court will usually listen to a 17 yr. old child's preference as to where she wants to live, again, the cost of hiring an attorney, filing a Petition for Change of Custody and having a hearing may be more expensive than it's worth. When your daughter is 18, she can legally move out without your permission. My guess is that she will learn, very quickly, how much responsibility is involved in "making it on her own."
I hope you find this information useful.
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