Emancipation in Kentucky: Questions and Answers

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What does "emancipation" mean?
Emancipation means that the parents of a child no longer have authority over their child, and they no longer have a right to the child's earnings.

When is a child emancipated in Kentucky?
There are three ways by which a child may become emancipated:

  1. At the "age of majority", which is eighteen (18) in Kentucky, a child ordinarily becomes emancipated automatically. Some of these exceptions to this rule include:
    • if a child is a full-time high school student when they turn 18, the parent is still responsible for their support until the child turns 19, and
    • a handicapped child has the right to parental support until the child turns 21.
  2. A person under the age of 18 may become emancipated with the consent of the parent(s). A parent’s consent does not need to be declared or written down. It can be implied by the parent’s acting or failing to act to govern or support the child. A parent emancipates their minor child by consenting to the child’s marriage. Likewise, if a parent allows a child to move out and become self-supporting, the child is impliedly emancipated. However, an implied emancipation can be revoked if the parent later changes their mind. In doubtful situations, it is the parents’ wishes that determine whether an emancipation occurs or has occurred.
  3. A person under the age of 18 may become emancipated by court order.

Can an emancipated minor purchase alcoholic beverages?
No. In Kentucky, no one under the age of 21 may purchase alcohol.

Can an emancipated minor be held liable on a contract?
No, not ordinarily. It is still the rule that persons under the age of 18 may not be bound by contracts they make, unless the contract is for basic necessities that the minor has no other means of obtaining.

Does a minor have to be emancipated to obtain an abortion?
No. There is a court process for a minor to get a judge’s permission to obtain an abortion without the parent’s consent.

Reviewed August 2009