What should I do if my daughter wants to get emancipated from my custody? 17 Answers as of January 27, 2012

I have three children from an abusive, drug addicted ex husband. I have joint residential custody and he has supervised visits at our local child exchange center but he hasn't seen the children in almost 8 years. Except last summer when he snuck into town and saw my oldest daughter behind my back and bought her and her friend alcohol. I have had a lot of problems with my oldest daughter and now she wants to go live with him. I believe he is still doing drugs, beating his new wife, and having affairs on her. How do I keep this from happening? My daughter wants to take me to court to get emancipated from my custody into his if I don't sign over sole custody to him. I can't do it. She has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and personality disorder. I think he is filling her head full of things. I don't want my daughter to get hurt again by this man.

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
Your daughter may think she wants emancipation, she does not and obviously she does not know what the term means, it is the legal equivalent of declaring her an adult, and as such, there is no support from any source, she is on her own. Now, if she wants to tell the Judge with whom she wants to live, that can be done only if a custody suit is open, she cannot bring the suit on her own, it is up to you or her father to file the suit and start the proceedings. In which case, her opinion is important but is not the deciding factor. Her stability, ability to make decisions, reasoning, and basis for wanting to live with dad all add into her desires as just one thing the court considers when deciding what is best for your daughter.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 1/27/2012
Law Office of James Bordonaro
Law Office of James Bordonaro | James Albert Bordonaro
You need to file a petition to modify custody or I would suggest terminating his rights altogether. As for daughter, provide some documentation to court that she lacks mental capacity and judge will deny any request she files.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 1/26/2012
H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
If she wants to be legally emancipated before the age of 18 and is not married, she has to file for that in court. You would be served with lawsuit papers and would have the opportunity to object to the emancipation being granted.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 1/26/2012
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
Colorado has no legal process for emancipation of a minor; if she is still under age 18, she must live where you or a judge say she has to live. Generally, a change of custody/residence has to be requested by a parent - not by the child. Obviously, forcing a teenager to do something is easier said than done, so if you have serious concerns you might want to call the DHS child protective services for advice and or assistance.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 1/25/2012
Diefer Law Group, P.C.
Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
You might need to go back to court on a custody motion to inform the court of what is going on and what your daughter is planning on doing. Or, you can wait for her to file her request to be emancipated and then object to it.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/25/2012
    Peyton and Associates | Barbara Peyton
    If your daughter wants to go live with her father, either you or he need to file a motion with the court to get permission for that change. If your daughter wants to become emancipated, she needs to file appropriate documents with the court and try to get an order declaring her emancipated.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    Get your evidence together to present if either she or your ex-husband try to file to change custody. Until she turns 18 years old she must comply with the current court order custody arrangement. So don't make it easy for her and don't agree to change custody if you feel it is not in her best interest. Can you get her to go to counseling with you to try and get your relationship with her back on track? Because if he can do this with your oldest he will try it with the next two also. Get a good lawyer ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    You do not have to "sign over" custody simply because a misguided teenaged child wants you to do so. Call the police re the father's providing of alcohol to minors; seek contempt against the father for violating the existing court order (which restricts his contact with the children); and contact Child Protective Services to obtain assistance in dealing with your teenaged child.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    The Law Office of Jill Rose Quinn | Jill Rose Quinn
    She would have to file a petition for emancipation which you could resist. If that happens you should retain a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins | Dave Hawkins
    Given these facts, it is almost a certainty that the court would not grant the Peitton for emancipation they are very rarely granted. Emancipation means that the child can stand on her own two feet financially, wihtout he suport of either parent. You can't get emanciapted from one parent if emancipation is granted, it applies to both parents and neither then has a financial obligation to the child. What you are speaking of is a change in custody that has nothiing to do with emancipation. If he wants to be your daughters primary custodial parent, he must file a Peittion to modfy the parenting plan.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy | Cassandra Savoy
    If he wants custody, he has to file an action with the court. The court will do what is in the best interest of the child based on the facts presented.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    From what you have stated, she wouldn't be successful anyway. However, should she choose to try to pursue emancipation, you definitely should hire an attorney to help you defend against the matter, just to be more certain.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    A sixteen year old wanting emancipation will have to show the court that she or he has a way of supporting themselves, that they will remain in school, and that they have a stable place to live. It doesn't sound like your daughter would be able to show the court any of those requirements. If your ex obtains an attorney for her you will have the opportunity of objecting to the court stating the reasons you feel it would not be in her best interest. The fact her father's visitations are supervised and he provided alcohol to her and her friends would pretty much negate a court granting him custody or her emancipation with the plan of living with him.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    The Law Office of Erin Farley
    The Law Office of Erin Farley | Erin Farley
    Trust your gut. You have stated that you can't sign over custody - follow your instinct and do not do it. You have not said your daughter's age, but she sounds like a teenager. Although she has added difficulties, teenagers often play one parent off of the other and threaten to run to the non-custodial parent's home or claim emancipation when they don't like the boundaries at their custodial home. You are correct to not fall for the threats. More than ever, your daughter needs stability and security and the knowledge that you are there for her no matter what. With dad's track record, the likelihood of his attaining custody is about nil. Unless your daughter can prove to a court that she can live on her own and support herself, the court won't grant emancipation. This is an issue for your daughter's therapist to address - make sure the therapist understands what your daughter is telling you, and make sure your daughter gets the support she needs in therapy, and make sure you continue to be her soft place to fall. I wish you luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/25/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Unless your daughter is age 18, marrying, entering the military or is demonstrated as self supporting, she cannot be emancipated. You certainly cannot emancipate a child because that child wishes to reside with another parent. A change of custody may occur if it can be demonstrated that the child is endangered in the current custodial environment and that the benefit of the change outweighs any harm. Children in the older teens may meet the endangerment threshold if they express a very strong opinion regarding custody. However, a court may still deny a change in custody if it believes the change is not in the child's best interests.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 1/25/2012
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