NH Law About... Emancipation of Minors

Introduction to... Emancipation of Minors

Posted October 29, 2012. Revised October 15, 2013; September 11, 2015.

"When a child is below the age of majority but has his or her own means of support and lives alone, the child is said to be 'emancipated.'" (Family Law)

A frequently asked question at the law library is "how do I become emancipated?" Several states have laws that outline the procedure for a minor to become emancipated and have forms online, for example, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont. New Hampshire, however, does not have a statutory process. Minors become emancipated when they marry or join the armed forces, or a court may find that a minor is emancipated in the context of a dispute over another issue such as child support or insurance coverage.

There's a downside to becoming emancipated: "Emancipation results … not only in a significant measure of freedom for the child, but also in a significant loss of protections otherwise afforded children." (Children and the Law in a Nutshell). In addition, emancipation does not mean that a minor can do all the things an adult can do. An emancipated minor still cannot buy alcohol or vote, for example.

The “Read About …” section of this guide refers to resources about the law and will provide context and key terms. “Read the Law …” links to selected laws on the emancipation of minors and should be used as a jumping off point for further research.

Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney.

Read about... Emancipation of Minors


New Hampshire Legal Aid. Emancipation.

Link verified on: September 11, 2015

"In New Hampshire there is no law or rule allowing a minor to seek emancipation. A child in NH is considered to be emancipated at the age of 18. A child will also be considered to be emancipated when the child marries or enters the armed forces or military academy."   GO>

Legal Information Institute. Emancipation of minors

Link verified on: September 11, 2015

"All states have laws dealing with the "emancipation" of minors; that is, laws that specify when and under what conditions children become independent of their parents for important legal purposes." ...   GO>


Family law / by Charles G. Douglas. New Providence, N.J. : LexisNexis, 2014. 4th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: December 30, 2016

Children and the law in a nutshell / by Douglas E. Abrams, Sarah H. Ramsey, Susan Vivian Mangold. St. Paul, MN : West Academic Publishing, [2015]. 5th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: September 11, 2015

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Read the law about... Emancipation of Minors


RSA 21:44. Age of Majority; Adults  GO>

Link verified on: September 11, 2015

RSA 21-B. Common Law Rule Abrogated. Age of Majority Changed; Recognition of Emancipation Decrees from Other States  GO>

Link verified on: September 11, 2015

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Find the New Hampshire statutes in print at libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>


121 N.H. 670 (1981). Dingley v. Dingley

Link verified on: October 3, 2016

"The issue in this case is whether the parties' son, who is a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy and who receives substantial financial assistance therefrom, is "emancipated" for purposes of a divorce decree requiring the defendant to pay the plaintiff child support until the parties' children reach age twenty-one or are emancipated, whichever occurs first."   GO>

125 N.H. 517 (1984). Bernier v. Bernier

Link verified on: October 3, 2016

"The question of whether a child is emancipated must be determined largely upon the peculiar facts and circumstances of each case."   GO>

135 N.H. 67 (1991). Concord Group Ins. Companies v. Sleeper

Link verified on: September 11, 2015

"Emancipation is never presumed; rather, the person asserting it has the burden of proving that the child is indeed emancipated. 59 AM. JUR. 2d, supra sec. 85. Moreover, it is the parents' intent that governs whether a child has been emancipated, and with the few exceptions of entering into marriage or military service, emancipation may not be accomplished by an act of the child alone. 59 AM. JUR .2d, supra sec. 80, 83-85."   GO>

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Reports

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Find the New Hampshire Reports in libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Cases: New Hampshire case law consists of the published opinions of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. GO>



Link verified on: December 16, 2016

Volunteer attorneys are available to answer legal questions through LawLine, a free service of the NH Bar Association. LawLine is held on the SECOND Wednesday of each month from 6:00 p.m. ~ 8:00 p.m. To reach LawLine, call (toll free) 800-868-1212.   GO>

New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>

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