Massachusetts law about emancipation of minors

A compilation of laws, cases, and web sources on emancipation law.

Table of Contents

Best bet

Emancipation and the legal rights of minors in Massachusetts, Children's Law Center
The very best source on the topic. Includes detailed information on emancipation and its alternatives, as well as the legal rights of minors to enter contracts, work in various occupations and more.

Despite the fact that the "age of majority" is eighteen, this does not mean that all obligations between parents and children will end on the day a child turns eighteen. In fact, Massachusetts courts have stated that in this state, there is no fixed age when complete emancipation occurs, and that it does not automatically occur when the child turns eighteen.

Massachusetts laws

18 Age of majority

MGL c. 4, § 7, clauses 48-51 Statutory definitions: age of majority; minor; full age; adult

MGL c. 112, § 12F Emergency treatment of minors [i.e., circumstances in which minors may give consent to medical or dental care]

MGL c. 119, § 21 Protection of children

MGL c. 208, § 28 Divorce: children; care, custody and maintenance

MGL c. 231, § 85P Age of majority - legal capacity

MGL c. 231, § 85G Parents' tort liability for willful acts of minor children

Federal laws

20 USC § 1087vv(d) Independent student defined. The rules for independence for financial aid.

Selected case law

Bobblis v. Costa, 94 Mass. App. Ct. 264 (2018)
A "child's enrollment as a student cadet in the [ROTC] did not... constitute entry into the military," and thus the child was not emancipated.

Broome v. Broome , 40 Mass. App. Ct. 148 (1996). Declared that a father's claims were insufficient to show financial emancipation. His evidence showing she had a temporary means of support which had lasted for six months in the prior year was not enough, per the court.

Eccleston v Bankosky , 438 Mass 428 (2003). Court found that a non-custodial, financially able parent should be ordered to pay post-majority support to a child who, prior to reaching the age of 18, became a ward of the state because her parents were unfit. The child was attending college, was still domiciled with the court appointed guardian and was not financially independent and therefore could not be considered financially emancipated.

LaBrecque v. Parsons , 74 Mass. App. Ct. 766 (2009). This court says in part "Though no Massachusetts case has addressed this specific issue, there is nothing in our statutory scheme relative to the issue of support, or in our decisional law, on the question what constitutes emancipation that supports the conclusion that a child, who is otherwise not emancipated, becomes emancipated as matter of law when she gives birth to a child. This view is consistent with that of other States that have considered the question."

McCarthy v. Boston and Lowell Railroad Corp. , 148 Mass. 550 (1889). Tort action by father for loss of earnings of minor son. Court ruled that emancipation is proved by conduct and acts. The father forfeited his rights by his acts even though in his own mind he did not intend to emancipate his son.

Turner v. McCune , 4 Mass. App. Ct. 864 (1976). Court found that emancipation of a minor is not automatically given by statute when a child reaches the age of majority. The facts must demonstrate, i.e., that a child at the age of majority has a means of income independent from his parents to establish he is financially emancipated.

Web sources

What can you do if your parents refuse to help [pay for college]? , FinAid.org
Provides guidance to students who are not considered independent under the strict financial aid standards, but whose parents will not cooperate

What constitutes emancipation to release a parent from a child support obligation, Separated Parenting Access and Resource Center
Not specific to Massachusetts, this is a great introduction to the issues affecting emancipation throughout the country. Includes age of majority, marriage, entering the armed forces, having a child, abandoning the parent's home, and more. Keep in mind that Massachusetts may have different standards than the national norm in some of these areas.

Print sources

Children and the law in a nutshell, 6th. ed., West Academic, 2018. pp. 369-372.

Massachusetts domestic relations, 5th ed. (Massachusetts legal practice library vol. 10), Lexis. 2012 with supplement, sec. 20-50.

Massachusetts practice v.1-3 (Family law and practice) 4th ed., Thomson Reuters, with supplement. Chapters 30:3, 50:12 and 56:3

Massachusetts practice, v. 33-34 (Landlord and tenant law with forms) 3rd. ed., West Group, with supplement. Chapter 6-Parties to a Lease, Section 6:2 Minors

Representing the child client, by Michael J. Dale, Lexis, loose-leaf, sec. 3.05

"What amounts to implied emancipation of a minor child," 165 A.L.R. 723

"What voluntary acts of child, other than marriage or entry into military service, terminate parent's obligation to support," 55 ALR5th 557

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

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Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
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Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: July 17, 2019
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