This week I had a young client ask me the details of emancipation which means basically becoming an "adult" in the eyes of the law. As everyone knows, the law of majority in New Mexico is 18. Yet there are some circumstances in which a teen can become a legal adult before reaching their 18th birthday. Here's what New Mexico law says:
A child can become emancipated once the child reaches the age of 16 and meets one of the following requirements: validly married, or on active military duty, or been declared "emancipated" by the district court. What does this mean in practical terms?
A child may be legally married at the age of 16 with parental consent. Technically a child can be allowed to be married even younger with a Children's Court order allowing the marriage.
The second condition is active military duty. Children may enlist into the US Armed Forces when they are 17 if there's parental consent. However, it's my understanding that service members who have not obtained the age of 18 cannot be deployed overseas.
Lastly a child may petition the Children's Court which is part of the District Court. The child must prove that they are willingly living apart from their parent(s) and/or guardian(s) and the child is managing his/her own financial affairs e.g. working at a job. Lastly the Court must find that granting the petition is in the child's best interest.
As you can see, emancipation of minors isn't something the law favors. Please be sure to consult a qualified custody and family law attorney if you have further questions.