NH Law About... Emancipation of Minors

Introduction to... Emancipation of Minors

Updated February 22, 2017

"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.

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: February 22, 2017

"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: February 22, 2017

"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: May 17, 2018

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: February 22, 2017

165 A.L.R. 723. What amounts to implied emancipation of minor child

Introduction -- In general -- Implied partial emancipation -- Effect of desertion, abandonment, nonsupport, or other censurable conduct of parent -- Effect of parent's bringing suit as next friend of child -- Effect of infant's hiring himself out to employer; consent of parents to hiring, and to collection and retention of earnings -- Effect of child's conducting business of his own with parent's assent to earnings becoming child's -- Effect of child's leaving home or residing away from home -- Parent's consent to child's departure from home to make his way in the world -- Leaving parental roof as condition of emancipation -- Effect of payments by parent to child of spending money -- Effect of offer by parent to pay or allow child his earnings -- Effect of parent employing child or contracting for his services; effect of partnership of parent and child -- Effect of marriage of infant -- Effect of appointment of guardian for the child -- Effect of enlistment in military service of United States -- Miscellaneous other circumstances held to amount to emancipation -- Miscellaneous other circumstances held not to amount to emancipation.   GO>

Link verified on: February 22, 2017

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Read the law about... Emancipation of Minors


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

Link verified on: February 22, 2017

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

Link verified on: February 22, 2017

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

Link verified on: June 29, 2018

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: February 22, 2017

"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: February 22, 2017

"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: February 22, 2017

"Emancipation is never presumed; rather, the person asserting it has the burden of proving that the child is indeed emancipated. 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."   GO>

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Reports

Link verified on: May 18, 2018

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: May 18, 2018

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: June 29, 2018

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

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