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LO #2, has veered away from researching Massachusetts common law, and has instead focused on determining what standards of eligibility for emancipation might best serve minors, as well as recommending criteria for determining emancipation that are more narrowly tailored than the current ``best interests of the child'' standard. In doing so, and because a majority of the states with emancipation statutes also use this standard, this LO set out to find primary and secondary sources specific to emancipation. An exhaustive search on how the ``best interest of the child'' standard is used to determine emancipation was conducted within federal and state case law with the goal of producing an analysis used by a court in determining whether emancipation is appropriate or not. No informative case law was identified. Additionally, law review articles; psychological and sociological studies; books; and other similar authorities were searched to reveal how the ``best interest of the child'' standard may be used in connection with determining the appropriateness of emancipation, to no avail. However, court cases, law review articles, and studies interpreting this standard and how it is used in cases of adoption, custody, and visitation is readily available. Thus, this discussion relies on those materials in addition to state statutes, discussed later in this paper, to make recommendations on how to more narrowly tailor the current ``best interest'' standard.

The available information leads the LO to conclude that an analogy may be made between emancipation, custody, and visitation with regard to the ``best interest'' standard. In these circumstances, each has the potential of terminating familial ties. Although research on adoption and termination of parental rights may appear most analogous to emancipation, this is actually not so. This is because adoption and termination of parental rights is often a lengthier process that requires careful deliberation by the participants, whereas emancipation is a ``procedural snap.''37 Further, adoption usually implies infants, where emancipation most often deals with teenagers who are nearing the age of majority. Case law and law review articles involving visitation rights of grandparents and ``best interest'' determinations has also increased over the last few decades because of changes in family dynamics and the increased pressure on legislatures by the ``increasingly influential generation of older Americans.''38 However, this research will not be incorporated into this discussion because this material generally involves disputes between the minor's parents and grandparents, and does not involve terminating ties between the minor and her grandparents.39


Carol Sanger and Eleanor Willemsen, Minor Changes: Emancipating Children in Modern Times, 25 U. Mich. J.L. Ref. 239, 247 (1992).
Ross A. Thompson, Barbara R. Tinisley, Mario J. Scalora, Ross D. Parke, Grandparent's Visitation Rights Legalizing the Ties that Bind, American Psychologist, vol. 44, 1217-1222, 1219 (Sept. 1989); see also Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).
See Sanger and Willemsen, supra n. 37, at 319, for a discussion of how emancipation is similar to divorce.

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Next: Utilizing the ``Best Interest'' Up: Massachusetts Analysis Previous: Introduction   Contents   Index
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