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Ali Kirk
Ali Kirk, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 244
Experience:  14+ years experience in divorce, custody, visitation, child support and paternity matters.
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I have a question on minor emancipation in Wisconsin

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I have a question on minor emancipation in Wisconsin

Thank you for your question.


-Are you asking what are the legal grounds to be emancipated in Wisconsin?


-Also, how old is the person who is seeking emancipation?


Thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I posted some more details to my question, but she is 17, divorced parents, her 20 year old sister is my girlfriend and they are staying at their mothers. Her dad is abusive and has been calling her saying that hes coming to take her. The courts ordered week on week off as far as custody with both parents. The police called Jenny, the 17 year old, saying she had two choices to go with her dad or go to jail for the night. Her mother is out of town, and they claimed that Kaylee, her older sister is now her legal guardian and taking her anywhere is obstruction. Being a product of a divorced family myself and going through the family court system here, I remember being given the choice at age 16-17 to choose whom, and where I wanted to stay, when I wanted to stay there, as I was of legal age to know the difference between right and wrong.... HELP ME, they are stalling right now
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
are you still there Kirk?

Thank you for the follow-up information. Contrary to popular belief, attorney's usually cannot answer all questions from the top-of their-head and research needs to be performed and this may take time. It is better to have more knowledge than less. Also, thank you for your patience.


I will be providing the answer shortly. There are basically two issues here, the emancipation and the child custody issue. Please check back soon.


Thank you. Also, one this site, once I respond to the question initially, sometimes, additional information pops up. As a result, it makes me look like I have not reviewed all the facts. However, that is not the case.


Thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No thats totally fine, and I appreciate your work. I guess we could disregard the emancipation, because she is just choosing a parent, maybe we could focus on the choice of the minor in picking a parent through a divorce? She does not want to live alone, but with her mother, soley.

Thank you for the follow-up information. It always baffles me that we are living in the "United States," but there is little uniformity in laws from state to state.


In Wisconsin, for informational purposes, there is no law enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature that provides expressly for emancipation. This is very strange because most states have such laws.


However -- after research, there is one case (judge made law) that mentions emancipation. In Niesen v. Niesen, 38 Wis. 2d 599; 157 N.W.2d 660 (1968), the court stated that:


"While it is often said emancipation cannot be accomplished by an act of the child alone, this is not always true. Marriage and entering into military service have been held to be acts of self-emancipation. In 39 Am. Jur., Parent and Child, p. 704, sec. 64, it is stated as a general rule that the fact that a child has entered into a relation which is inconsistent with the idea of being in legal subjection to his father or in a sense in bondage is sufficient to effect an emancipation. Emancipation may be partial or total and limited to certain purposes. It may prevent the parent from having a right to the earnings of his child and conversely, it may free parents under some circumstances from being responsible for the debts of the child because of the removal of the general disabilities of infancy. 67 C. J. S., Parent and Child, p. 815, sec. 89; Annot. (1946), What amounts to implied emancipation of minor child, 165 A. L. R. 723. However, total or partial emancipation is personal to the parties and does not shift the responsibility to support from the father to the public.



As a result, it may be possible for the child, through a legal guardian to petition for emancipation.


However, based on your facts, it would be more advisable for someone (an adult) to file a petition or motion to have guardian ad litem (GAL) appointed. The GAL represents the child and determines what is in the best interests of the child and reports to the court.


Also, generally, children that are older than 12, usually can have a "say" as to what parent they prefer to live with. Although generally, the court only considers the child's testimony and it is not absolutely binding.


Or, her mother could petition the court to modify the custody order so that the father does not have any type of meaningful residential visitation. In the petition, the mother should include the facts indicating the negative conduct of the father.


In these cases, the judge usually has discretion to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Discretion is a fancy word for basically stating that the ruling is based on the judge's opinion.


Given the complexity of the facts in this case, it would be advisable to consult with a local attorney. Generally, attorneys with 1-5 years of experience have fees that are more reasonable.


If an attorney cannot be afforded, the below link provides some forms that may be helpful.


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