Does a Husband Become Your Guardian if You Are Underage?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Your state’s laws on marriage, age of majority, and emancipation will likely determine your legal status if you marry while you are a minor. Commonly, certain acts, such as joining the military or marrying, emancipate a minor, which means the minor does not need a guardian. Since state laws differ greatly in this area, you should research your state’s laws or consult with an attorney if you are dealing with this issue.

Your state’s laws on marriage, age of majority, and emancipation will likely determine your legal status if you marry while you are a minor. Commonly, certain acts, such as joining the military or marrying, emancipate a minor, which means the minor does not need a guardian. Since state laws differ greatly in this area, you should research your state’s laws or consult with an attorney if you are dealing with this issue.

Emancipation Generally

Emancipation is the process whereby a minor is freed from some type of parental control and the parent is relieved of some legal responsibility for the minor. In many jurisdictions, marriage results in emancipation because it transforms the normal parent-child relationship by bringing in a third party, the spouse. Your state’s laws will determine exactly what legal rights are given to an emancipated minor. For example, Maryland law allows a minor to be partially emancipated upon marriage, but the emancipation does not give the minor the right to vote or sign a contract. In contrast, Florida law allows a married minor to have all the legal rights of an adult.

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Automatic Emancipation Upon Marriage

Some states automatically emancipate minors, at least for some purposes, when the minor is validly married. For example, Florida considers a minor who is married or has been married automatically emancipated, even if that marriage was later dissolved or the minor’s spouse died. In Maine, marriage is the only situation in which minors are automatically emancipated; however, emancipation does not mean the minor is treated as an adult for all purposes. For example, if the minor is involved in a case normally handled by a juvenile court, it will still be handled by the juvenile court.

Court-Ordered Emancipation

States that do not automatically emancipate minors upon marriage may still allow emancipation of a married minor by court-ordered emancipation. States such as Virginia allow their courts to order emancipation of a minor if the minor has a valid marriage. This process is not automatic, however, and does require petitioning the court for the emancipation declaration.

Parental Consent

In some states, a minor’s emancipation depends on whether the parents consented to the marriage. For example, in New York, where the age of majority is 21, marriages without parental consent are likely to result in court emancipation of the minor; marriages with parental consent do not. Even in states where a minor is automatically emancipated upon marriage, the marriage itself must be valid according to the state's laws, which often require parental consent. An invalid marriage cannot be the basis for automatic emancipation.

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Child Support & Emancipation Laws

References

Related articles

Maryland Emancipation & Child Support Rules

Noncustodial parents have a legal obligation to support their minor children and generally must pay child support to the custodial parent to cover a portion of the child's expenses. The noncustodial parent must continue paying child support until the child reaches the age of majority or is legally emancipated, even if the custodial parent remarries or her income increases. Child support is a right of the child and cannot be waived by the custodial parent.

Legal Guardianship in Colorado

A guardian is appointed by the court to make personal decisions on behalf of another person, known as the ward, when that person is incapable of making decisions for himself. A ward may be a minor child or an incapacitated adult. In Colorado, the laws governing guardianship are found in Title 15, Article 14 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Dissolving Legal Guardianship in Kansas

A Kansas court may appoint a guardian to care for an impaired adult or child whose parents are unfit or unavailable. Such a person is known as a "ward." Guardianships in Kansas are governed by state law. Termination of a guardianship is available on several bases, some of which require a court hearing. Regardless of whether a court hearing is required, termination of a guardianship requires a court order.

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