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SupportGuidelines.com

WHAT CONSTITUTES EMANCIPATION TO RELEASE A PARENT FROM A CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION

Laura Wish Morgan

I. INTRODUCTION: AGE OF MAJORITY AS EMANCIPATION

As a general rule, when a child reaches the age of majority, the child is then "emancipated," freeing the child's parents of any further support obligations. Some states also have statutes that allow a divorce court to impose upon the parents the duty to provide for college assistance support beyond the age of majority. See Brett R. Turner, From Child to Adult: Parental Liability for Support of College-Age Children, 5 Divorce Litigation 169 (September 1993). The common law also provides that parents of a child who is unable to care for him/herself may have the support duty extended beyond the child's majority. See Laura W. Morgan, The Duty to Support Adult Disabled Children, 9 Divorce Litigation 185 (October 1997). And, of course, parents may always agree to extend support beyond majority. See Brett R. Turner, Construction and Enforcement of College Tuition Provisions in Separation Agreements, 11 Divorce Litigation 21 (February 1999). See generally Laura W. Morgan, Child Support Guidelines: Interpretation and Application § 4.05 (Supp. 1999).

Many states rewrote their emancipation statutes in the 1970s and 1980s to provide that a parent is released from a child support obligation when the child is 19 or graduates from high school. [See Table below.]

State Age of Termination of Support
Alabama when child turns 18 or graduates from high school
Alaska when child turns 18, or 19 if child enrolled in high school or equivalent and is residing with custodial parent
Arizona when child turns 18 or graduates from high school
Arkansas when child turns 18 or graduates from high school
California when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, then 19 or graduation from high school, whichever is first
Colorado when child turns 19
Connecticut when child turns 18
Delaware when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, then 19 or graduation from high school whichever is first
District of Columbia when child turns 21
Florida when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, then 19 or graduation from high school, whichever is later
Georgia when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, then when child turns 20
Hawaii when child turns 18, or court may extend to age 23 if child is enrolled in accredited higher educations institution
Idaho when child turns 18, or age 19 by court order if child is enrolled in formal education
Illinois when child turns 18
Indiana when child turns 21
Iowa when child turns18
Kansas when child turns 18 or when child graduates high school, whichever is later
Kentucky when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, then when child turns 19
Louisiana when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 19 or graduates, whichever is first
Maine when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 19
Maryland when child turns 18
Massachu-setts when child turns 18, or when child turns 21 of child is domiciled with parent, or when child turns 23 if child is enrolled in an educational program
Michigan when child turns 18, or when child turns 19½ to allow child to complete high school
Minnesota when child turns 18, or when child turns 20 if child attending high school
Missouri when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 21 or graduates high school, whichever is first
Mississippi when child turns 21
Montana when child turns 18 or if child is in high school, when child turns 19
Nebraska when child turns 19
Nevada when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 19
New

Hampshire

when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever is first
New Jersey when child turns 18
New Mexico until a child’s graduation from high school if the child is emancipated only by age, is under nineteen, and is attending high school
New York when child turns 21
North

Carolina

when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 20 or graduates from high school, whichever is first
North

Dakota

when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever is first
Ohio when child turns 18 or when child graduates from high school
Oklahoma when child turns 18 or when child graduates from high school
Oregon when child turns 18, or if child is in high school half-time or more, when child turns 21
Pennsylvania when child turns 18 or completes high school
Rhode Island when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 19 or 90 days past graduation, whichever is first
South Carolina when child turns 18, or when child graduates from high school
South Dakota when child turns 18, of if child is in high school, when child graduates
Tennessee when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child graduates
Texas when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child graduates
Utah when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child graduates
Vermont when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child graduates
Virginia when child turns 18, of if child is in high school, when child turns 19 or graduates, whichever is first
Washington when child turns 18
West Virginia when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 20 or graduates, whichever is first
Wisconsin when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 19 or graduates, whichever is first
Wyoming when child turns 18, or if child is in high school, when child turns 20 or graduates, whichever is first

"Emancipation" may also come before the age or event stated in the above Table. "Self-emancipation occurs when a child who is physically and mentally able to take care of himself voluntarily abandons the parental roof and leaves its protection and influence and goes out to fight the battle of life on his own account." Iroquois Iron Co. v. Industrial Commission, 294 Ill. 106, 109, 128 N.E. 289 (1920). Accord, e.g., Napolitano v. Napolitano, 732 P.2d 245 (Colo. Ct. App. 1986) (in determining whether emancipation has occurred, court must consider totality of circumstances, particularly conduct that is inconsistent with a continuation of parental control and support); Foxvog v. Foxvog, 7 Neb. App. 92, 578 N.W.2d 916 (1998) (emancipation releases child from custody and support or parents); Alice C. v. Bernard G.C., 193 A.D.2d 97, 602 N.Y.S.2d 623 ( ) (children are emancipated and parents no longer have an obligation to support them if they become economically independent through employment, entry into military service, or marriage, and may be constructively emancipated if they, without cause, withdraw from parental control and supervision); Filippone v. Lee, 304 N.J. Super. 301, 700 A.2d 384 ( ) (emancipation occurs by reason of reaching age of majority, marriage, or when child is voluntarily no longer in the care, custody, and control of either parent). Emancipation is also achieved when a child voluntarily marries or enters the armed forces. In essence, prior to the age of majority, marriage, or entry into military service, so long as a child is still in need of the care and custody and control of his or her parents, the child is not emancipated. Broyles v. Broyles, 711 P.2d 1119 (Wyo.)

"Emancipation" before the age of majority is never presumed, but must be proven by the party seeking to terminate support. See generally 59 Am. Jr. 2d, Parent and Child § 85 (1996).

This article will survey the law concerning emancipation in these broad categories: marriage, entering the armed forces, becoming pregnant, and leaving the parental roof and becoming self-supporting. See generally, Chadwick N. Gardner, Don't Come Crying' to Daddy! Emancipation of Minors: When Is a Parent Free at Last from the Obligation of Child Support, 33 U. Louisville J. Fam. L. 827 (1995); see also Dana F. Castle, Early Emancipation Statutes: Should They Protect Parents as Well as Children?, 20 Fam. L.Q. 343 (1986); Alice M. Wright, What Voluntary Acts of Child, Other Than Marriage of Entry into Military Service, Temrinate Parent's Obligation to Support, 55 A.L.R.5th 557 (1998).

II. MARRIAGE AS EMANCIPATION

Generally, the marriage of a child is an emancipating event, thereby terminating a parent's responsibility for support. See Annotation, Marriage of Minor Child as Terminating Support Provisions of Divorce or Similar Decree, 58 A.L.R.2d 355 (1958). Based on this principle, in In re Marriage of Walters, 238 Ill. App. 3d 1086, 604 N.E.2d 432 (1992), the court held that the Illinois statute that allows an award for college expenses and maintenance does not apply to a child who is otherwise emancipated by marriage. The court further held on the facts, however, that the child had not been emancipated by marriage, because the marriage was annulled. Accord Guzman v. Guzman, 175 Ariz. 183, 854 P.2d 1169 (1993) (child does not have to leave parental home and support himself to be considered emancipated if child has married); In re Marriage of Daniels, 296 Ill. App. 3d 446, 695 N.E.2d 1376 (1998) (husband's obligation to pay educational expenses for child terminated when child married); Specking v. Specking, 528 S.W.2d 448 (Mo. Ct. App. 1975) (marriage of minor child terminated father's obligation of support); Thomas v. Thomas, 46 Tenn. Ap;. 572, 330 S.W.2d 583 (1959) (mother who received support after minor daughter married ordered to refund payments); State ex rel. Dep't of Health and Human Resources v. Farmer, 26 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1052 (W. Va. Sup. Ct., Nov. 19, 1999) (child was emancipated as a matter of law when she married, and later divorce could not unemancipate her).

Certain circumstances, however, have led courts to conclude that the marriage in question did not act to emancipate the child. For example, in Abu-Nadal v. Abu-Nada, 25 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1289 (Ohio Ct. App. Mar. 15, 1999), a girl married at age 15 in her native Jordan at the bequest of her family. Shortly thereafter, she returned to Ohio and since that time lived with her parents. The court refused to find that the Jordanian marriage emancipated the girl, noting that the girl's mother continues to support the girl, the girl's husband remained in Jordan, and the girl was seeking a divorce. Similarly, in Berks County Children and Youth Services v. Rowan, 428 Pa. Super. 448, 631 A.2d 615 (1993), the court admitted that a minor's marriage weighs heavily in favor of a finding of emancipation, but such marriage is not dispositive, as a matter of law, that the child is emancipated. The court held that since the minor child had separated from her husband and was in need of support, she was not emancipated, and the minor's parents were thus obligated to pay for their child's custody and care. Accord In re Marriage of Schoby, 26 Kan. App. 2d 316, 982 P.2d 406 (1999) (marriage does not automatically emancipate child; court must look to totality of circumstances, and nothing short of death will usually terminate obligation of support). But see In re Petition of Pace, ___ Kan. App. 2d ___, 989 P.2d 297 (1999) (child who entered into common-law marriage was emancipated and thus not subject to the state's CHINS code).

Some courts have also held that a separation agreement which unequivocally binds the parents to pay support until a certain age or event precludes termination of the support obligation by reason of marriage. Church v. Hancock, 261 N.C. 764, 261 S.E.2d 764 (1964).

Finally, some courts have held that while the marriage of a minor ordinarily requires the court to terminate child support, the termination is not automatic; the support obligor must petition the court for termination of support. This allows the court to determine whether other circumstances may militate against a finding of emancipation. E.g., Hamilton v. Phillips, 494 so. 2d 659 (Ala. Civ. App. 1986). This principle is most often applied when the support order is for a number of children, and the eldest child becomes emancipated by reason of marriage. In that case, the support obligor is not entitled to unilaterally reduce support payments, but rather, he or she must petition the court for a redetermination of support. Ivester v. Ivester, 242 Ga. 386, 249 S.E.2d 69 (1978); Reiffeitt v. Reiffett, 419 N.E.2d 999 (Ind. Ct. App. 1981); Gordon v. Ary, 358 S.W.2d 81 (Mo. Ct. App. 1962). But see La Voice v. La Voice, 125 Vt. 236, 214 A.2d 53 (1965) (so much of the order as relates to support of minor children terminates upon their marriage).

III. ENTERING THE ARMED FORCES AS EMANCIPATION

Generally, entering the armed forces constitutes emancipation. See generally, Annotation, Child's Induction Into Military Service as Affecting Right to Support, 20 A.L.R.2d 1414 ( ). In most states, the obligation terminates automatically. E.g., Wittwer v. Wittwer, 545 N.E.2d 27 (Ind. Ct. App. 1989); Blackman v. Blackman, 767 S.W.2d 54 (Mo. Ct. App. 1989); Slep v. Slep, 43 N.J. Super. 538, 129 A.2d 317 (1957); La Voice v. La Voice, 125 Vt. 236, 214 A.2d 53 (1965); Ditmar v. Ditmar, 48 Wash. 2d 373, 293 P.2d 759 (1956);

In some states, however, the parent is relieved of the duty of support only as of the filing of a petition for modification/termination of the duty of support. Weitz v. Weitz, 1 A.D.2d 1025, 151 N.Y.S.2d 520 ( ); Bradford v. Futrell, 225 Md. 512, 171 A.2d 493 (1961); Davis v. Davis, 217 Miss. 313, 64 So. 2d 145 (1953); Fauser v. Fauser, 50 Misc. 2d 601, 271 N.Y.S.2d 59 (1966); Stauffer v. Stauffer, 4 Ohio App. 2d 339, 212 N.E.2d 622 (1965).

Some states have found under the peculiar circumstances of the case that enlistment in the armed forces does not emancipate the child. In Omohundro v. Omohundro, 8 Ohio App. 3d 318, 457 N.E.2d 324 (1982), the minor son voluntarily joined the Army Reserves, but he did so with the express purpose of taking advantage of its drug rehabilitation program and high school equivalency program. Although the son's room and board were furnished by the army during the son's period of active duty, the court concluded that the son was still in need of clothing, transportation, food and shelter for periods of nonactive duty, and he was thus not emancipated. See also Koon v. Koon, 50 Wash. 2d 577, 313 P.2d 369 (1957) (where during period of son's military service mother maintained home for him and he was supported by her, there was no emancipation).

In Argonaut Insurance Exchange v. Kates, 137 Cal. App. 2d 158, 289 P.2d 801 (1955), the court was most likely motivated by its desire to provide death benefits rather its desire to reach the correct result. In this case, the court held that the father was not relieved of his duty of support when his son enlisted in the army. Consequently, the son was entitled to the father's death benefits when the father was killed in an industrial accident.

There is some disagreement as to whether entering a military academy, such as West Point or Annapolis, constitutes "entering the armed forces," and thus is an emancipating event. In Howard v. Howard, 80 Ohio App. 3d 832, 610 N.E.2d 1152 (1992), the son enrolled as a cadet in the United States Coast Guard Academy. The father moved for modification of support, contending the son was emancipated. The court held that entering a military academy, as opposed to entering the armed forces, is not an emancipating event. A child's status at the Coast Guard Academy, the court held, is no different from any other college student on full scholarship.

A different tack was taken in Porath v. McVey, 884 S.W.2d 692 (Mo. Ct. App. 1994). In that case, the son enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point. The court held that by the terms of enrollment at West Point, the son was on "active duty in the military," and thus emancipated. Accord Zuckerman v. Zuckerman, 154 A.D.2d 666, 546 N.Y.S.2d 666 (2d Dep't 1989) (cadet enrolled at West Point is emancipated); Dingley v. Dingley, 121 N.H. 670, 433 A.2d 1281 (1981).

IV. BECOMING PREGNANT OR HAVING A CHILD AS EMANCIPATION

While getting married constitutes an emancipation, getting pregnant and having a child does NOT constitute emancipation. The difference, reason the courts, is that in the former situation, there is an intent to substitute the parents' support for the new spouse's support, while in the latter situation, there is no intent to rid oneself of the support of the parents. In fact, in most of these cases, the pregnant child continues to live with the custodial parent and continues to depend on support from the custodial and/or non-custodial parent. In re Marriage of Clay, 670 P.2d 31 (Colo. Ct. app. 1983) (daughter not emancipated where she continued to live with her mother and depend on her for support); Doerrfeld v. Konz, 524 So. 2d 1115 (Fla. 2d DCA 1988) (minor daughter in high-school, living with her mother, was not emancipated due to pregnancy); Hicks v. Fulton County Dept. of Family & Children Services, 155 Ga. App. 1, 270 S.W.2d 254 (1980) (pregnant minor still dependent on mother's Social Security benefits); In re George, 6 Kan. App.2d 336, 988 P.2d 251 (1999) (child who quit school on her 16th birthday and then had a baby was not emancipated; child still lives with her mother and depends on her for financial support); Town of Brunswick v. LaPrise, 262 A.2d 366 (Me. 1970) (father held liable for daughter's support; fact that she was pregnant could not relieve his responsibility); Randolph v. Randolph, 26 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1070 (Mo. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 1999) (17-year-old girl who moved out of parents' home after an argument, lived with boyfriend, quit school, worked at various jobs for six months, became pregnant, and then returned home was not emancipated); French v. French, 599 S.W.2d 40 (Mo. Ct. App. 1980) (pregnant daughter's receipt of AFDC benefits did not constitute new status inconsistent with continued control and support by daughter's parents); Wulff v. Wulff, 243 Neb. 616, 500 N.W.2d 845 (1993) (where daughter returned to her mother's home after she had a baby and broke up with her boyfriend, daughter was not emancipated); Bickford v. Bickford, 55 A.D.2d 719, 389 N.Y.S.2d 430 (3d Dep't 1976) (New York's Social Services Law mandates support for child until age 21 where the child is receiving public assistance and contains no exception for emancipation due to pregnancy); Thompson v. Thompson, 94 Misc. 2d 911, 405 N.Y.S.2d 974 (Fam. Ct. 1978) (pregnant daughter had not abandoned her mother's home and was thus not emancipated); see also Nuckols v. Nuckols, 12 Ohio App. 3d 94, 467 N.E.2d 259 (1983) (daughter who was pregnant was emancipated by her 18th birthday, not by her pregnancy).

On the other hand, moving out of the parents' house and into an apartment, setting up housekeeping with a partner, and having a baby can be emancipation, because the totality of the circumstances shows an intent to be free of the parents' custody, control, and support. Champagne v. Passons, 95 Cal. App. 15, 272 P. 353 (1928) (daughter had child, was engaged to child's father, spent every weekend with him, and opened joint checking account with him); Town v. Anonymous, 39 Conn. Supp. 35, 467 A.2d 687 (1983) (sixteen-year-old girl who became pregnant and moved from her parents' home to her boyfriend's home was emancipated); Rennie v. Rennie, 718 So. 2d 1091 (Miss. 1998); Parker v. Stage, 43 N.Y.S.2d 128, 400 N.Y.S.2d 794 (1977) (eighteen-year-old pregnant girl who moved out of parents' home to live with boyfriend forfeited right to parental support).

V. EARNING ONE'S OWN SUPPORT AND ABANDONING PARENTS' HOME

As noted above, emancipation occurs when the child abandons the parents' home and goes out to fight life's battles on his own. E.g., Bradford v. Wallace, 25 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1465 (Ala. Civ. App. July 16, 1999) (18-year-old child averaged $1,300 per month in income, and stated desire to be self-supporting); In re Marriage of Weisbart, 39 Colo. App. 115, 564 P.2d 961 (1977 (son was employed full-time with construction company earning $480 per month, he resided in his own apartment with a female roommate, and mother gave him no financial support; father's obligation terminated due to son's emancipation); Poudre Valley Hospital District v. Heckart, 491 P. 2d894 (Colo. Ct. App. 1971) (daughter removed herself from her father's home and went to live with girlfriends); Ison v. Florida Sanitarium and Benevolent Association, 302 So. 2d 200 (Fla. 4th DCA 1974) (18-year-old daughter who moved away from home and supported herself); Ireland v. Ireland, 123 Idaho 955, 855 P.2d 40 (1993) (son became emancipated when he was working full time, he left home to reside with his mother's boyfriend and he paid rent); Meyer v. Meyer, 222 Ill. App. 3d 357, 583 N.E.2d 716 (1991) (son moved out of house and joined Peace Corps, which provided son with room and board and stipend); In re Marriage of Johnson, 625 N.E.2d 1331 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993) (son who worked full time and lived in own apartment was emancipated); Burton v. Burton, 472 S.W.2d 620 (Mo. Ct. App. 1971) (daughter became emancipated before eighteenth birthday where she left home, got her own apartment, and became a bank teller); Fortunato v. Fortunato, 242 A.D.2d 720, 662 N.Y.S.2d 579 (2d Dep't 1997) (20-year-old who was working 30-35 hours per week, used his earnings to meet all his own expenses, contributed to room and board in mother's home, and was not attending school and had no plans to save money for college, was emancipated); Ellis v. Ellis, 52 Or. App. 671, 629 P.2d 417 (1981), affirmed 292 Or. 502, 640 P.2d 1024 (1982) (daughter who worked full time upon graduation from high school, moved into own apartment, purchased care with own credit card, was emancipated).

The same principle can be applied to find a child is emancipated when he or she drops out of school with no intention to returning, with the intention of being free from parental authority. McGregor v. McGregor, 237 Ga. 587, 226 s.W.2d 591 (1976); In re Marriage of Seeba, 480 N.E.2d 960 (Ind. Ct. App. 1985); see also Roe v. Doe, 29 N.Y.2d 188, 324 N.Y.S.2d 71 (1971) (daughter was emancipated when she left dormitory to live off-campus without father's consent); Blanding v. Southwestern Life Insurance Co., 268 S.C. 306, 233 S.W.2d 107 (1977). The mere act of dropping out of high-school, however, will not usually constitute emancipation. In re Marriage of Donahoe, 114 Ill. App. 3d 470, 448 N.E.2d 1030 (1983); Brancheau v. Weddle, 555 N.E.2d 1315 (Ind. Ct. App. 1990);

A child can also become emancipated if he or she earns his own living, even though he or she remains in a parent's home. The court's focus on "self-sufficiency" may lead the court to conclude that even though the child remains in a parent's home, he or she is actually self-sufficient. This is most often the case where the child treats the parent's home like a boarding house, paying the parent rent or other expenses. E.g., Hill v. Hill, 523 So. 2d 445 (Ala. Civ. App. 1988); Embree v. Embree, 85 Idaho 43, 380 P.2d 216 (1963); Moody v. Moody, 565 N.E.2d 388 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991); Black v. Cole, 626 S.W.2d 397 (Mo. Ct. App. 1981); Rapplean v. Patterson, 631 S.W.2d 693 (Mo. Ct. App. 1982); Blue v. Blue, 152 Neb. 82, 40 N.W.2d 268 (1949); Townsen v. Townsen, 101 Ohio App. 85, 137 N.E.2d 789 (1954); Matthews v. Matthews, 71 S.D. 115, 22 N.W.2d 27 (1946); Foutch v. Foutch, 2 Wash. App. 407, 469 P.2d 223 (1970).

These cases should be contrasted with the situation where a child leaves home temporarily with no intention to forego a parent's support. For example, if a child leaves home to attend college but remains dependent on the parents for support, there is no emancipation. E.g., Anderson v. Loper, 689 So. 2d 118 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996) (daughter left home and moved in with boyfriend and his parents to attend college); In re Marriage of Robinson, 629 P.2d 1069 (Colo. 1981) (child's summer employment and temporary absence from home to earn money for college did not constitute emancipation);Quillen v. Quillen, 671 N.E.2d 98 (Ind. 1996) (temporary absence from home, with intent to return to college; no emancipation found); Daniels v. Daniels, 748 S.W.2d 916 (Mo. Ct. App. 1988) (temporary three month stay at friend's house when hostility with mother did not constitute emancipation); Braun v. Lied, 851 S.W.2d 93 (Mo. Ct. app. 1993) (daughter who was away at school, although she missed one semester due to medical condition, was not emancipated); Bierman v. Bierman, 584 S.W.2d 106 (Mo. Ct. App. 1979) (daughter at university, paying tuition by scholarship and part-time work; no emancipation); Specking v. Specking, 528 S.W.2d 448 (Mo. Ct. App. 1975) (daughter attending junior college, working part-time, living with older sister; no emancipation). Similarly, students who leave school temporarily to earn some money with the intention that they will return to school are not emancipated by the fact that they are working full-time for a short period of time. Turner v. Turner, 441 S.W.2d 105 (Ky. 1956); Caldwell v. Caldwell, 579 So. 2d 543 (Miss. 1991); Shutt v. Shutt, 133 Misc. 2d 81, 506 N.Y.S.2d 611 (Sup. Ct. 1986).

Although it seems obvious, merely having a part-time job or a job that does not pay enough to support oneself does not constitute emancipation. Taylor v. Taylor, 412 So. 2d 1231 (Ala. Civ. App. 1981); Shuff v. Fulte, 344 Ill. App. 157, 100 N.E.2d 502 (1951); Taylor v. Chaffin, 558 N.E.2d 879 (Ind. Ct. App. 1990); Marshall v. Marshall, 601 N.E.2d 9 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992); In re Marriage of Tearman, 617 N.E.2d 974 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993); Pearson v. Pearson, 247 Iowa 437, 74 N.W.2d 224 (1956); Andrews v. Williams, 723 So.2d 1175 (Miss. Ct. App. 1998); Setser v. Piazza, 664 So. 2d 1211 (Miss. 1994); Orlowski v. Orlowski, 8762 S.W.2d 842 (Mo. Ct. App. 1988).

Finally, in a few cases, the court has held that emancipation was affected by the child's complete abandonment of the parent-child relationship. In Hambrick v. Prestwood, 382 So. 2d 474 (Miss. 1980), the court held that the father need not support his daughter where she flatly refused to have anything to do with him. Similarly, in Cohen v. Schnepf, 94 a.D.2d 783, 463 N.Y.S.2d 29 (2d Dep't 1983), the court held that the son's actions of refusing to visit his father and using his stepfather's surname on his college applications affected an emancipation. Accord Chamberlin v. Chamberlin, 658 N.Y.S.2d 751 (3d Dep't 1997); Joseph M.M. Jr. v. Mary Ellen C.M., 227 A.D.2d 561, 642 N.Y.S.2d 713 (2d Dep't 1996); Rubino v. Morgan, 224 A.D.2d 903, 638 N.Y.S.2d 524 (3d Dep't 1996) (father released from duty of support of daughter who refused to speak with him for six years); McCarthy v. Braiman, 125 A.D.2d 572, 510 N.Y.S.2d 3 (2d Dep't 1986); Barbara M. v. Harry M., 117 Misc. 2d 142, 458 N.Y.S.2d 136 (Fam. Ct. 1982); Gross ex rel. Oeler v. Oeler, 527 Pa. 532, 594 A.2d 649 (1991) (father's obligation to support seventeen-year-old daughter terminated when she refused to live with him after mother moved out of state and instead lived with an unrelated family).

This is a minority position, however. Most courts have held that a child's hostile conduct toward a parent should not relieve that parent of the duty of support. Carroll v. Carroll, 593 So. 2d 1131 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992); In re Marriage of Brown, 597 N.E.2d 1297 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992); Borden v. Borden, 550 So. 2d 901 (La. Ct. App. 1989); Henshaw v. Henshaw, 83 Mich. App. 68, 268 N.W.2d 289 (1978); Moir v. Kowakowski, 282 Minn. 243, 164 N.W.2d 69 (1969); Caldwell v. Caldwell, 579 So. 2d 543 (Miss. 1991); Hiross v. Hiross, 224 A.D.2d 662, 639 N.Y.S.2d 70 (2d Dep't 1996); Radin v. Radin, 209 A.D.2d 396, 618 N.Y.S.2d 105 (2d Dep't 1994); Jaffee v. Jaffee, 202 A.D.2d 264, 608 N.Y.S.2d 649 (1st Dep't 1994); Drago v. Drago, 138 A.D.2d 704, 526 N.Y.S.2d 518 (2d Dep't 1988); Yarborough v. Yarborough, 168 S.C. 46, 166 S.E.2d 877 (1932); Broyles v. Broyles, 711 P.2d 1119 (Wyo. 1985). Thus, If a child temporarily leaves home because of a disagreement with the custodial parent, there is also no emancipation. E.g., Bopp v. Bopp, 671 S.W.2d 348 (Mo. Ct. App. 1984) (daughter not emancipated and so adoptive father still owed support when daughter left home to live with natural father); Alice C. v. Bernard G.C., 193 A.D.2d 97, 602 N.Y.S.2d 623 (2d Dep't 1993); Collins v. Collins, 74 A.D.2d 862, 426 N.Y.S.2d 56 (2d Dep't 1980); Bates v. Bates, 62 Misc. 2d 498, 310 N.Y.S.2d 26 (Fam. Ct. 1970); Wayne County Dep't of Social Services v. Schultz, 81 Misc. 2d 603, 366 N.Y.S.2d 845 (Fam. Ct. 1975); Thompson v. Thompson, 94 Misc. 2d 911, 405 N.Y.S.2d 974 (Fam. Ct. 1978); Durfee v. Durfee, 796 P.2d 713 (Utah Ct. App. 1990).

VI. CONCLUSION

As the law of child support seeks to impose upon parents the duty of support for longer periods of time past the age of 18, the incidence of parents seeking to have their children declared emancipated will rise. What these cases make clear, however, is that only the child's ability to care for and support him/herself will allow a parent to claim emancipation as a defense to the duty of support.

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