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Can Will Smith's Son Jaden Really Pursue Emancipation?

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By Betty Wang, JD on May 15, 2013 12:09 PM

A few days ago, UK tabloid The Sun "revealed" that Will Smith's son, Jaden, wanted to be emancipated for his 15th birthday. But apparently, parents reporters just don't understand.

"Here's the thing I need to explain," Jaden later clarified on "Ellen." "I'm not going anywhere." He then playfully proclaimed that he'd like to live with his parents and freeload for the next 20 to 30 years.

While both Smiths were on the same page, chalking up the emancipation talk as a product of the rumor (or miscommunication) mill, the question still remains: Can soon-to-be 15-year-old Jaden Smith pursue emancipation if he actually wanted to?

Emancipation Basics

The short answer is yes. The long answer involves a process slightly more complicated than just turning in a simple request.

For starters, all states have a required, statutory age for those pursuing emancipation. Most are set at 16, but California goes as low as 14.

Some other factors a court will consider include notice to the parents, the child's maturity level, and the child's financial independence. In an emancipation case, courts also give parents an opportunity to respond before deciding whether or not the requisites have been properly satisfied.

Generally speaking, an emancipation request will be granted if it is in the minor's best interest.

After Emancipation

So what happens once a minor is emancipated? Not only is an emancipated minor responsible for his own shelter and finances, but he also earns a whole new set of privileges. This includes the ability to enter into contracts, to buy or sell real estate, and to be a party to a lawsuit.

Emancipated minors are not, however, allowed to drink or vote, if they are yet not of legal age.

If the emancipation rumor about Jaden Smith was ever true at one point in time, then he probably made the right choice by not pursuing it. After all, he's the Fresh Prince's son -- what could the courts possibly find wrong with that?

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