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Emancipation is a legal procedure by which the court frees children from the custody and control of their parents or guardians before they reach the age of 18.

A child may petition the Superior Court of the county in which the child lives permanently or temporarily.  In San Diego County, all emancipation petitions are heard in Juvenile Court. 

For more information about emancipation, please refer to the following on the Judicial Council website:


Emancipation packets (forms and procedure) may be obtained from any Juvenile Court location. There is a $3.00 fee for the packet. Forms also may be downloaded from the Judicial Council website:

A budget must be attached to the Income and Expense Declaration. Please refer to this sample budget.

A written declaration by the minor must be attached to the Petition for Declaration of Emancipation of Minor form. The declaration must state why the minor should be emancipated.

For additional information, please refer to the Petition for Declaration of Emancipation of Minor Requirements (English and Spanish).

Completed paperwork must be submitted in person to one of the following locations (where the case will be heard): 

For Central, East County, and South County residents For North County residents
Juvenile Central
2851 Meadow Lark Drive
San Diego, CA 92123
North County Courthouse
325 South Melrose Drive
Vista, CA 92081


The filing fee of $435.00 must be paid at the time of filing. If you are unable to pay to the filing fee, you may qualify for a fee waiver. The California Courts website has additional information on requesting a fee waiver.


Refer to the Judicial Council Emancipation Self-Help Center for information on what the state requires for a child to be emancipted.