Defining who is a child, and the removal of disabilities – Defining who a child is seems like an easy thing to do. It’s anyone under the age of 18, right? True, but that’s only generally speaking. When it comes to Texas law, there is so much more to defining who is a child (or minor) – especially when the minor in question wishes to be considered a legal adult.
Let us start with the three ways a “child” can become a legal adult:
- Turn 18 – pretty self explanatory.
- Get married – A person who is or has been married under Texas law is no longer a child. Furthermore, a parent’s rights and duties end once a child marries (Refer to our blog archives for minors and marriage).
- Petition for the removal of disabilities of minority.
Disabilities of minority are restrictions the state places on a child’s legal capacity, which are designed to protect the child and his/her estate. While restrictions such as voting rights and the illegal consumption of alcohol remain in place due to constitutional or statutory age requirements, a minor can petition for the removal of disabilities for general purposes before they turn 18 – assuming certain criteria are met.
A petition to the court must be in the county the child resides in, and the child must be a Texas resident, at least 16 years old and living apart from his/her parents. They must be managing their own financial affairs.
Among other specifics, the petition must state the reason for the request and why doing so would be in the minor’s best interest. It must be verified by a parent or legal guardian and the court must appoint an attorney – if there isn’t already one involved – to represent the child’s interests at the hearing.
When a court removes a child’s disabilities for general purposes, the child can do any of the following:
- Enter into a contract.
- Consent to medical treatment.
- Decide on education.
- Litigate without a next friend or guardian.
- Manage their own earnings and manage their estate.
- Make all legal decisions previously made by their parents.
I cannot stress enough the importance of having proper and qualified legal counsel involved in the parent-child relationship if you are considering anything discussed above. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give one of our team members at Nelson Law Group, PC a call. Defining who is a child, and the removal of disabilities . Visit our facebook for more great advice by clicking here.