Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sister's Keeper - Juvenile Emancipation

The legal case in this book is a petition for Medical Emancipation for Anna from her family.

When, how, and why should a child be legally emancipated from her parents?

This whole issue started back in 1992 when a couple of kids filed for legal emancipation from their parents, and won. Before that, children were absolutely under their parents' authority, unless they were removed by Child Services. Those cases caused a huge stir at the time.

Since then, it's become a lot more common, but it's still cause for a lot of comment and speculation. (Are the parents really that awful? Is the kid just trying to get attention? Is the child out of control and just rebelling against authority?)

If nothing else, the stigma attached to Emancipation of a Minor would lead most parents to fight it to the bitter end.

The corollary to Emancipation of a Minor is Emancipating the Parent. Can the parents cut their ties to their child for any reason? How about if the child is fire-bug? Or a murderer? Can the parent say "I'm not responsible for this?" I just checked with an attorney, and his answer was "no" - your kid is your kid till they're 18, and you're responsible. Is that fair?

Bear in mind that Emancipation is not all that great. When a child is emancipated, suddenly they're responsible for a lot of things that just sound like it's too much for a child to handle. Your parents don't have to pay your bills. Your parents aren't responsible for your medical. You have to find a place to live, and a way to support yourself. Essentially, an emancipated child loses their entire support system. Check out A Teenager's Guide to Emancipation .

In this book, Campbell's legal secretary asks the 24 dollar question - if Anna wins "Where's she going to live?" Would medical emancipation mean that Anna would need to move out? Where would she go?

So what do you think about Juvenile Emancipation? Should it be allowed? Under what circumstances? What would you do if you were served papers that your child was filing for emancipation?

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