Law School Case Brief
State in Interest of R.R. v. C.R. - 797 P.2d 459 (Utah Ct. App. 1990)
The common law doctrine of emancipation is, by virtue of Utah Code Ann. § 68-3-1 (1986), a part of the law of Utah constituting the rule of decision in Utah courts, unless it conflicts with the statutes or constitutions of the United States or of Utah.
In these consolidated cases, the parents of two minor boys appeal from juvenile court orders requiring them to pay the State for support furnished the two boys after they were adjudicated as within the juvenile court's jurisdiction and while they were in the temporary custody of state agencies. The parents argued that their children had emancipated themselves through their own conduct.
Did the trial court err in refusing to hear the parents' arguments regarding emancipation because it held that the doctrine did not apply in Utah?
The court vacated the trial court's decisions. Writing that the doctrine of emancipation continued to be an accepted part of the common law, it stated that Utah Code Ann. § 68-3-1 (1986), adopting the common law of England, had been interpreted as the Utah legislature's adoption of the common law as it had been developed by United States courts, not just the English courts. Therefore, it held, the common law doctrine of emancipation was a part of Utah law constituting the rule of decision in Utah courts, unless it conflicted with the statutes or constitutions of the United States or of Utah. It remanded the case, ordering the juvenile court to determine what factors were relevant to whether emancipation had occurred, whether the children had been emancipated under these factors, and whether applying the doctrine of emancipation would conflict with any Utah law.
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