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Child emancipation and family law arrangements

In the state of North Carolina, and others across the country, multiple family law guidelines account for the physical and financial well-being of children. Legal contracts like child custody and child support arrangements provide for the daily care needs of children, while also establishing and enforcing parental rights and obligations. Therefore, other processes like the legal emancipation of a minor can have a significant impact on many family law arrangements.

The North Carolina legislature outlines state child support guidelines, for instance, and explains that a noncustodial parent is typically responsible for making court-ordered child support payments unless or until the child in question reaches the age of 18. Child support can be ordered beyond that age under a number of circumstances, including that the child is still attending primary or secondary school. The court can also determine that child support payments should continue beyond the age of 18 in cases where the adult child in question has a qualifying disability.

While state child support guidelines cover a large number of grounds for implementing and extending the financial obligations of noncustodial parents, there are only a few circumstances under which child support payments can be terminated prior to a child reaching the age of 18. According to the North Carolina General Assembly, parental rights and responsibilities can be made void in cases where a child establishes legal emancipation.

Any child who is at least 16 years old can seek legal emancipation if he or she has lived in a North Carolina County or federal territory for at least six months and files a petition with the court. Multiple factors are taken into consideration by the court when determining whether or not a juvenile should be emancipated. For instance, the presiding judge in the case may review the child’s ability to provide for him or herself, as well as consider why the child is rejecting the support and/or supervision of his or her parents. If it is determined that the juvenile is fit to care for him or herself, and that emancipation is in his or her best interests, the judge may grant the petition and terminate all of the legal rights and obligations of the child’s parents.

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