Minor Changes: Emancipating Children in Modern Times

118 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2006

See all articles by Carol Sanger

Carol Sanger

Columbia Law School

Eleanor Willemsen

Santa Clara University


This Article reports on a mechanism for removing children in conflict with their parents: statutory emancipation, the process by which minors attain legal adulthood before reaching the age of majority. Statutorily emancipated minors can sign binding contracts, own property, keep their earnings, and disobey their parents. Although under eighteen, they are considered as being over the age of majority in most of their dealings with parents and third parties. Thus, while emancipated minors can sign contracts and stay out late, their adult status also means that their parents are no longer responsible for the minors' support. To understand why minors choose to restructure their relationships with their parents and to redefine their status within society through the mechanism of emancipation, we undertook an empirical study on the use of emancipation in two northern California counties. The results of that study are reported here.

Keywords: minors, emancipation, contracts, parents

Suggested Citation

Sanger, Carol and Willemsen, Eleanor, Minor Changes: Emancipating Children in Modern Times. Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 25, p. 239, 1991. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=952315

Carol Sanger (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States
212-854-5478 (Phone)
212-854-7946 (Fax)

Eleanor Willemsen

Santa Clara University ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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