10 Emancipated Child Stars – What is Emancipation and When Is This The Best Choice for a Child Actor?
According to the California State Government website: Emancipation is a legal way for children, in this case child actors, to become adults before they are 18. Once a child is emancipated, his or her parents do not have custody or control of him or her anymore. Emancipation is usually forever. However, the court can cancel the emancipation if the minor asking for the emancipation lies to the court or is no longer able to support himself or herself.
If you are emancipated, you can do some things without your parent’s permission, like:
- Get medical care; Apply for a work permit; Sign up for school or college; and Live where you want to.
If you are emancipated, you will give up the right to be supported by your parents.
Even if you are emancipated:
- You must go to school; You cannot get married without your parent’s permission; and You will go to juvenile court if you break the law.
Note: If you have a legal guardian, all of the information in this section about parents applies to your legal guardian and your case, too.
There are 3 ways to become emancipated:
- Get married You will need permission from your parents and the court.
- Join the armed forces You need permission from your parents, and the armed forces must accept you.
- Get a declaration of emancipation from a judge To get a declaration of emancipation, you must prove ALL of these things:
- You are at least 14 years old.
- You do not want to live with your parents. Your parents do not mind if you move out.
- You can handle your own money.
- You have a legal way to make money.
- Emancipation would be good for you.
If you do not want to live with your parents, you do not necessarily have to get emancipated. You can:
- Get counseling or mediation with your parents;
- Go to live with another adult (like an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or family friend);
- Get help from public or private agencies; or
- Make an agreement with your parents to live somewhere else.
“Modern Family” star Ariel Winter, 14, is all over the news as the latest child star to seek legal emancipation from her parents, sighting allegations of emotional abuse by her mother Chrisoula Workman. Chrisoula Workman has subsequently filed an Objection to Petition for Appointment of Guardian of Minor.
The top 10 child actors who sought and won legal emancipation while they were minor children are:
- Juliette Lewis won emancipation at 14.
- Jaime Pressly was granted emancipation at the age of 15.
- Melissa Francis, former “Little House on the Prairie,” child star and now Fox Journalist was emancipated at age 15. She told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “I became a master of managing my mother’s moods. I would save pieces of good news, a good grade, a bit of gossip, to distract her when the tension was building. It was exhausting and ultimately made me so resentful.”
- Corey Feldman won emancipation at 15.
- Edward Furlong (The Terminator) became legally emancipated at 16 after a messy custody battle between his mother and uncle.
- Macaulay Culkin child star of the Home Alone franchise was famously emancipated at age of 14.
- Michelle Williams gained emancipation at 15 to pursue acting, against her parents wishes.
- Alicia Silverstone was amicably emancipated from her parents at 15 to work longer hours on “The Crush.”
- Jena Malone was legally emancipated at age 16.
- Drew Barrymore was emancipated at 15 from her notorious mother Jade Barrymore.
You can learn a lot more about emancipation by reading Legal Services for Children’s Emancipation Manual. This manual has a lot of answers about emancipation for teenagers.
Read the Emancipation Pamphlet (Form MC-301) for more information about the court process.
If you are a child actor considering seeking emancipation, please contact the Looking Ahead Program to speak with one of their knowledgeable and licensed counselors.