Many teens believe they can leave their parents' home when they turn 17. In Texas, that is NOT the rule. This guide explains what teens can and cannot do under Texas law.
When can a teen move from his or her parents' home?
At the age of 18 or upon emancipation. Chapter 31 of the Texas Family Code explains how a minor can become emancipated. The legal term for emancipation is "removal of the disabilities of minority." See below for how a teen can become emancipated in Texas.
When can a teen quit school?
Children under the age of 18 must attend school, unless otherwise exempted, even if they are emancipated. (Tex. Educ. Code § 25.085. see also Tex. Educ. Code § 25.086).
When can a teen vote?
Persons under the age of 18 cannot vote. This is established by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted July 1, 1971.
When can a person purchase alcohol?
The National Minimum Age Drinking Act of 1984, passed by Congress, requires a 10% reduction in highway funds for states that do not establish 21 as the minimum age for consuming and purchasing alcohol. In response to this act of Congress, Texas raised the minimum drinking age in Texas from 19 to 21 on September 1, 1986.
When can a teen purchase tobacco products?
In Texas, it is illegal to sell tobacco products to a person under the age of 18, even if that person has been emancipated. (Tex. Health & Safety Code § 161.082).
When can a teen join the armed forces?
The minimum age for joining the United States Military is 17, if the child has parental consent, or 18 without consent. This is established in Title 10 of the United States Code, 10 U.S.C. § 505.
When can a teen get married?
A county clerk cannot issue a marriage license if either party to the prospective marriage is under the age of 18. Tex. Family Code § 2.101. However, if the underage applicant has parental consent as per § 2.102 or a court order as per § 2.103, the clerk MAY issue the license.
EMANCIPATION METHOD #1: Get Married
The Texas Family Code says that "a person, regardless of age, who has been married in accordance with the law of this state has the capacity and power of an adult, including the capacity to contract." (Tex. Family Code § 1.004). That is powerful language and suggests that the quickest way to emancipation is to get married.
EMANCIPATION METHOD #2: Obtain a Court Order
A minor can ask the court to eliminate the minor's disablities of minority. The minor has to prove the court that the minor is ALREADY self-supporting AND that emancipation is in the minor's best interest.
EMANCIPATION METHOD #3: Live to the Age of 18
Most of the inquiries I receive from minors who seek emancipation come from children who are already 17 and, on average, will be treated as adults for most purposes in just a few months. If you are going to be 18 in just a few months anyway, the burden of drafting a petition, paying a filing fee, getting an amicus attorney appointed, attending a final hearing, drafting an order, and getting it signed may be more than the benefit of early emancipation.
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