Title 8 – Chapter 12: Emancipation

Title 8. Family/Children’s Code
Chapter 12. Emancipation

Title 8. Family/Children’s Code, Chapter 12. Emancipation


(A) Any minor child who has attained the age of sixteen (16) years may petition the Court for a determination that he be emancipated. The petition for emancipation shall set forth with specificity:

(1) The name, sex, date and place of birth, present address and tribal affiliation of the minor child;

(2) The names, dates of birth, addresses, and tribal affiliation of the minor child’s parents or guardian;

(3) The facts upon which emancipation is sought, and the basis for the Court’s jurisdiction.

(B) Upon the filing of the petition, the Court shall cause a notice to be issued to the minor child and the minor child’s parents or guardian.


(A) Upon the filing of a petition for emancipation, the Court shall set a time for hearing the petition. The time for the hearing shall not be more than thirty days after the filing of the petition.

(B) The Court shall cause a notice of the hearing to be given to the minor child, the parents or guardian of the minor child; or any other person whom the Court deems appropriate. The notice shall state that the minor child seeking emancipation has the right to be represented by counsel.

(C) Notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition, certified by the petitioner or his attorney or the Court Clerk, shall be served at least ten days before the date of the hearing by personal service on the persons enumerated in subsection (B) of this Section. If personal service cannot be reasonably effected or the address of any person is unknown, a Judge or Court Clerk shall order notice to be given by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, or if no such address is known, in a newspaper of general circulation in the region where the Court is located.

(D) Notice and appearance may be waived by a parent in writing before the Court, provided that such parent has been apprised by the Court of the meaning and consequences of the emancipation action. The parent who has executed such a waiver shall not be required to appear at the subsequent hearing.


(A) At the hearing held on the petition for emancipation, any party to whom notice was given shall have the right to appear and be heard with respect to the petition. If the parent who is consenting to the emancipation appears at the hearing, the Court shall explain to the parent the meaning and consequences of emancipation.

(B) Upon finding at the hearing or at anytime during the pendency of the petition that reasonable cause exists to warrant an investigation into the circumstances upon emancipation is sought, the Court may request the Indian Child Welfare Department to make an investigation and written report to the Court within forty-five (45) days from receipt of such request. The report shall indicate the physical, mental and emotional and financial condition of the minor child and shall contain such facts as may be relevant to determine whether the proposed emancipation will be in the best interests of the minor child.

(C) If such a report is requested, the Court shall schedule a hearing on the results of the investigation not more than thirty (30) days from the date of the expiration of the forty-five (45) day time period or receipt of the ICW report, whichever is earlier. The Court shall give reasonable notice of the investigation hearing to all parties to the first hearing at least ten days before the date of the investigation hearing.

(D) The report shall be admissible in evidence, subject to the right of any interested party to require that the person(s) making it appear as a witness and subject himself to examination.

(E) At either the hearing on the investigation or the first hearing, if no investigation and report has been requested, the Court may approve the petition for emancipation if it finds that emancipation is in the best interests of the minor child.

(F) If the Court denies a petition for emancipation, it may refer the matter to the Indian Child Welfare Department to assess the needs of the minor child.


(A) The Court shall make written findings in determining whether emancipation would be in the best interests of the minor child. The Court shall thereafter enter an order declaring the minor child emancipated if the Court finds that:

(1) Emancipation is in the best interests of the minor child;

(2) The minor child has entered into a valid marriage or is on active duty with the armed forces of the United States of America; or

(3) The minor child willingly lives separate and apart from his parents or guardian, with or without their consent, and that the minor child is managing his own financial affairs, regardless of the source of any lawful income.

(B) An Order that a minor child is emancipated shall have the following effects: the minor child shall be free of control by his parents or guardian; the minor child may consent to medical, dental, or psychiatric care without parental consent, knowledge, or liability; the minor child shall be entitled to his own earnings and to establish his own residence; the minor child may enter into a binding contract, buy and sell real and personal property, execute releases, sue and be sued in his own name; the minor child shall be deemed eligible to secure a marriage license, register a motor vehicle, and enlist in the armed services of the United States of America; the minor child may not thereafter be the subject of a petition as a neglected, abused, dependent or uncared for minor child; the parents of the minor child shall no longer be the guardians of the minor child, and shall be relieved of any obligations respecting the minor child’s school attendance and support; and the minor child shall be emancipated for the purposes of parental liability for the minor child’s acts.

(C) An Order that a minor child is emancipated shall not change the minor child’s eligibility for Tribal housing and incentive benefits or other Tribal benefits as determined by Tribal law or policy.