Before you start
Contact the court where you will file your papers
- Which courthouse handles emancipation cases. If you are in foster care or if you are a dependent or ward of the court, you must file your papers in the Juvenile court in your county.
- If there are any extra forms (called local forms) you need to fill out. The forms listed below are required in every county.
- How many copies of the forms you will need to file.
- If there is a fee to file the forms.
If you need help with any step, contact your court's Self-Help Center to find out if they can help. They may be able to review your forms before you file them. You can get more basic information in the Emancipation Pamphlet.
Fill out forms
- Petition for Declaration of Emancipation of Minor (form EM-100) (fill out and sign Page 1 only)
- Emancipation of Minor Income and Expense Declaration (form EM-115)
- Emancipation of Minor - Notice of Hearing (form EM-109) (Just fill out the top part with your name and the court information. If your parents or legal guardian will consent, have them sign Page 2.)
- Any local forms your court requires
You may have to pay a fee to file your petition. If you can't afford the fee, you can fill out forms to ask for a fee waiver.
On form EM-100, you will need to let the court know if you can't find your parents or guardians, or if you can't tell them about this case. You can explain this in your written statement (see step 2 below) that you can attach to form EM-100.
- If you do not know where your parents or guardians live, write in your statement when you last saw them and what you have done to find them. You will need to tell the judge in writing what you have done to try to find them.
- If you do not want to tell your parents about the petition, write down all the reasons why you can't tell them. You can ask the court for permission to not tell them.
Write a statement
Write a statement to the judge that explains:
- Why you want to be emancipated
- How and where you live
- How you support yourself
- If you have children, how you support them
- Why being emancipated would be good for you
You can use form MC-025 or blank pieces of paper to write your statement, then attach them to form EM-100. You can also attach letters and other documents to support what you write. For example, you can include a copy of your report card, a bank statement, and a letter from your boss, landlord, or people who support your emancipation. Be sure to black out personal information like account numbers or your social security number.
If you don't know where your parents are or they won't sign the consent
If you do not know where your parents or guardians live, write down when you last saw them and what you have done to find them. You will need to tell the judge in writing that you've tried to find them (called due diligence).
If you do not want to tell your parents about the petition, explain your reasons why. You can ask the court for permission to not tell them (called waiving notice).
If you know where your parents are but they refuse to sign the consent on page 2 of Emancipation of Minor - Notice of Hearing (form EM-109), you can include information about whether they have in some way agreed to your emancipation even if they won't sign. They will still need to find out that you are asking a judge for emancipation.
Make copies and take forms to the court clerk
Make 3 copies of your forms and statement. At the courthouse, you’ll file the forms you filled out by giving the original and the copies to the clerk.
The clerk will give you a case number and stamp the forms. The court will keep the original and return the copies to you.
In some courts, the clerk automatically sets a court date. If they do, the clerk will write the court date and time on your forms. If they don't, the clerk will give the forms to the judge to decide if they need to set a court date.
Get a decision or court date
Within 30 days of the day you file your forms, the judge must either
- Agree to (grant) you being emancipated,
- Deny your request to be emancipated, or
- Set a court date to get more information and hear from you.
In some courts, the judge may assign someone to run your background check or do an investigation before a hearing to see if emancipation will be in your best interests. If the judge sets a court date, find out how to let your parents know about the court date (called giving notice) and how to prepare for your court date.
If the judge grants your request without a court date
If the judge grants your request without a court date, take your papers back to the court clerk’s office and file them. You will get copies of the Declaration of Emancipation (form EM-130). Make sure you get “certified copies.” This means the clerk adds an official stamp to your Declaration that says the copy is true copy of the original. There is a $40 fee for each certified copy. If you have a fee waiver, you will not have to pay this fee.
These are important papers. You may need to show your boss, landlord, doctor, school, or anyone else who asks for your parents’ permission.
If you want the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to know that you are emancipated, fill out Emancipated Minor’s Application to California Department of Motor Vehicles (form EM-140). Take it to the DMV with a certified copy of your Declaration of Emancipation.