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15 Year-Old Wants Emancipation and Custody

Discussion in 'Emancipation Law' started by jhook711, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. jhook711

    jhook711 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello,

    Just turned 15 year-old boy whose parents died in an accident a few months ago is graduating high school early (3 years ahead of time) and will attend a public local college (within 4 miles of his current residence). Since his parents death, he has lived with relatives, along with his younger brother (age 9). However, his younger brother is very attached to him (one of the reasons why he is staying local for college) and would like to know the following:

    1) Can he be "emancipated" from his relatives because he is finishing high school at an early age and attending college this Fall?

    2) Due to his relationship with his brother, he wants to make all the decisions for his younger sibling (just like a parent) instead of the relatives where they reside. Is there any legal way for the 15 year-old to petition for some type of legal kinship of his 9 year-old brother?

    Please note that the brothers do not need the financial support of any relatives for housing, food, clothing, education, etc. Also, they love their relatives, but the 15-year old wants to be "like mom and dad" and attempt to "raise his younger brother" just like his parents would want.

    Thanks.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Here you go, JHOOK, these NJ lawyers offer some very sound, solid advice on seeking emancipation in your state.
    In most cases my stock answer is no way.
    In your case, things are quite different.
    You've adjusted well to the death of your parents recently, you've trudged on and are about to graduate high school three years ahead of your peer group, you're tracking for college, selected a college, gained acceptance to college, and you're a positive influence on your younger sibling.
    Your circumstances might just be enough, along with your achievements to convince a judge to emancipate you.

    Anyway, have a look, think about it, discuss it with your relatives, and make a decision.

    Congratulations on your achievements, good luck on your endeavors, and keep the positive trajectory.

    http://jerseyfamilylawyers.com/lawy...on-of-a-Minor-Child-in-New-Jersey_bl14813.htm

    http://www.nj.com/south-jersey-voices/index.ssf/2014/06/your_legal_corner_emancipation.html
     
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  3. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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  4. shrinkmaster

    shrinkmaster Well-Known Member

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  5. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    What is the 15 year old going to live on?

    Any benefits derived from his parents' death will likely be held by a payee representative or similar. Emancipation does not automatically mean that this will no longer be required.
     
  6. jhook711

    jhook711 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    @Army Judge: Thank you.

    @Betty3: For some reason, the emancipation is not a huge concern for the 15 year-old. But I agree that it is an uphill battle for custody (of his younger brother).

    @Shrinkmaster: Thanks for the link. I guess it is easier when a child actor is earning millions per year.

    @Proserpina: The 15-year old will live on the benefits derived from the parents' death. The main concern is the ability for the 15-year old to make sure that the "environment" of his 9 year-old brother is as close to "normal" as possible.

    For example, every summer for 4-5 days, both brothers travels to Texas to visit the home of their parents' college friends, who also have sons that are the same age. The boys consider this family in Texas like any other relative (e.g., uncle, aunt, cousins). But the relatives do not want them traveling to Texas to be with this family "because they are not related." It might sound silly, but this relationship that should not end just because their parents died in an accident.

    Another example is the house rules. The relatives where the boys are staying do not allow them to go to bed after 8pm. When their parents were alive, they went to bed at 9pm (the hour difference is not a big deal). However, sometimes they need an extra 30-60 minutes to complete a school assignment that is due (or study for a test). The extra time is not given and some of the assignments have been submitted incomplete. That has never happened before. There is a reason why the 15 year-old is completing his high school diploma 3 years ahead of time and the 9 year-old is on the same trajectory.

    The examples above may sound a bit silly, and the relatives may be good people, but the 15 year-old just wants his younger brother to live in an environment that is similar to what they are used to. He attempts to guide his younger brother as best as he can without causing conflicts with relatives. Nevertheless, they are both uncomfortable and the 15-year old would like to make all decisions for his younger brother, even though he is very young himself.
     
  7. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Sorry but I don't see it happening. Do the relatives now have legal custody of both boys? They have to do whatever the relatives say. Are the relatives handling (receiving) the benefits from parents' deaths for the boys since they are minors?
     
  8. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Nothing you have posted is even remotely sufficient to support a petition for emancipation. If he were 17, there might be a chance for emancipation (though not custody) but not at 15.
     
  9. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    Bedtimes and visiting friends out of state are not reasons to change custody. If big bro wants to help little bro, he ought to help him better manage his time so that all school assignments can be completed by 8 PM. Perhaps the Texas friends could visit the boys instead of the other way around. Sending a 9 and 15 year old off to another state to visit people the guardians are not close with right after the children have lost both parents may not be the best idea. It makes sense that the guardians might give this a second thought. "You" don't indicate that the boys are no longer permitted to contact the Texas family at all. Phone, email, letters, social media, etc. can keep those relationships going until the boys are older and less vulnerable.
     
  10. jhook711

    jhook711 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    @Betty3: I don't know if the relatives have "legal" custody of the boys. The relatives were the nearest relatives (they lived less than a mile apart at the time of the accident). In other words, they became the "de facto" guardians (no one questioned this at the time). In addition, they are receiving benefits for the boys because of their age.

    @cbg: You are probably right, but it is a very difficult situation for everyone involved.

    @ElleMD: The boys continues to contact the Texas family via text on a regular basis. Additionally, their educational accomplishments is an indication on how well they have managed time. Therefore, it is very sad that the relatives cannot be flexible from time-to-time considering how well they both continue to do in school even though they recently lost their parents (it could have turned out worse).

    Obviously, there are other minor issues, such as not being able to see other relatives as often as they used to, not being able to continue in a certain sport because it is too "violent," etc. Again, this may all sound silly, but these boys recently lost their parents and are handling that loss "well" because they lean on each other (even though they have a 6-year age gap).

    There is another scenario if emancipation is not possible: have another relative become the legal guardian of the boys. In this scenario:

    1) Will the courts allow this change in guardianship without reasonable cause?

    2) Can one set of relatives "control" the "money" while the other relatives are responsible for the daily activities (i.e., guardianship) of the boys?

    3) If the above is possible, can the 15-year old petition for custody of his younger brother once he becomes 18?

    I want to thank you all for your feedback and input.
     
  11. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Young Master Hook, have you reached out to other relatives to discuss your dilemma? If not, and its possible, I suggest you do so DISCRETELY. Yes, without a doubt, you can pursue custody of your sibling upon the age of majority. With your progress, young man, that should coincide with your entry to graduate or professional school!!!!
     
  12. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    All of what you describe regarding bedtimes and sports are judgment calls all parents and guardians make. No judge is going to order them to be more flexible on bedtime or allow a sport. I doubt the boys agreed with every parenting decision their parents made either, though right now they are probably looking at life with their parents through rose-colored glasses. That is normal. Nor is this this a reason to switch custody. If these current guardians are receiving funds from the parents' trust or insurance policies, 9 times in 10, the courts were involved. This was probably not made known to the boys as it really isn't any of their concern and didn't involve them as they are children. Same with custody. CPS would be placing them in foster care if there was no guardian available.

    If another relative wants to challenge guardianship they may at their own expense, but that relative very well may have different rules the boys don't like. Children simply do not get to dictate the household rules. It can get very expensive to go through the custody process, especially if contested.

    I have a good friend who did get guardianship of a younger sibling. It took years and considerable expense and did not happen at 18, though he would have liked for it to have happened then. Different state but in his case, the younger sibling was even already living with him by default 99% of the time and the older brother had been the one primarily "raising" the younger one his whole life. What I am saying is that it is not a simple or inexpensive matter. If the younger boy is living in an already stable and caring home, do not expect to get custody.

    Older brother needs to be realistic about what this will mean as well. Right now, it sounds like a good idea and I understand why the two of them against the world sounds like a great idea, or the plot of a sitcom. Reality is very different. Older bro would have to be ready to deal with the emotional issues that come with the loss of the parents and general growing up. It is naïve to think the younger child will never rebel or challenge or have any issues as a result of the loss of his parents. Older bro will need to think about child care, parent conferences, putting his own social life on the back burner, how it will affect starting his own family, attending college, starting a career, attending to any illnesses of the younger, and making all the decisions and tough calls a parent needs to make. Plus, even the most responsible 15 or 18 year old is still only a 15 or 18 year old. They often still need guidance and support themselves, whether they like to admit to it or not.
     

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