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Would-be Emancipated Minor

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  • Would-be Emancipated Minor

    I apologize for beginning a new thread where most of the other discussions in this forum have regurgitated the same queries and responses, but was wondering if I might be able to gather some information specific to my case.

    My parents would never admit to any intolerance on their behalf, but the fact of the matter remains that after I graduated from high school in May and came out to my parents as an FTM transman, they decided the college I was set to attend (one of the nation's top-ranked liberal arts colleges?!) was too poisonous and tolerant an environment for me, and would only encourage my gender identification. Consequently they withdrew financial support of my education, without which I was forced to withdraw from my school; my parents are now trying to keep me at home and rehabilitate me (read: "straighten" me out, the details of which I won't enter here because y'all are mandated reporters ).

    I absolutely have enough evidence to initiate a CPS investigation and enough means to attain emancipation (I've worked out an affordable housing situation, I have two, soon to be three, jobs in a skilled trade (seriously, do all the connotations of "delinquent" still hold if I'm above the income threshold for governmental health insurance?), and I have more than enough savings to keep myself afloat in the event that my plans and backup plans don't manifest ideally); however, after discussions with my therapist and lawyer, we've assessed that I may not have enough evidence of abuse in the home to count on emancipation as an emergency court order--so I'd have to wait for my case to be heard in court, which we decided in June would be irrelevant (due to my reaching the age of majority) by the time it was brought to the attention of a judge.

    Evidently I've been sitting on the decision to leave home for months, and my eighteenth birthday is in 35 days, but as much as I've whiled my time at home, I can't wait longer than September 2, when I will be beginning a new job with a regular schedule, as if my parents know where I am at that point, even after I turn 18 and am legally living alone, they'll be able to find me and generally cause a nuisance. I wouldn't be able to file a restraining order against my parents to prevent them from causing a disruption at my workplace until after they had done it, which for the sake of myself, my employer, and my clients I have no desire to risk. The only real solution I've formulated is to leave home on September 2 and lie low until my birthday (all of my employers know I don't have parental consent to work/may be a "juvenile runaway," but they're also aware of my greater situation and are fine with my working regardless). I did consider living in a shelter for the interim, but the only shelter I know of in my area that takes youth (the Bill Wilson Center in Santa Clara, California) requires minors to receive parental permission to leave the shelter to go to work--which I won't get, because why would my parents hand over that bargaining chip if they can instead just force me to come home?

    So after that lengthy lead-up, here's my question: I do have an adult friend who is willing to harbor me if to do so would not be in defiance of the law. While I'm aware that running away in itself is not against the law for me, I have no desire to implicate that friend. I heard once that it wouldn't be illegal for them to take me in so long as they didn't lie about my whereabouts to the police if asked (which would be an obstruction of justice more than a runaway-specific case), but in reading this forum, it sounds like they could be charged with aiding and abetting my, uh, "delinquency" (my landlord is also willing to let me move in prior to my eighteenth birthday, but I don't want to cause trouble there, either, especially since I know I legally can't sign lease as a minor). Is this true? Otherwise the law allowing minors to run away seems redundant if they're not allowed to stay anywhere aside from the streets.

    Right, and my father has threatened to retract his sponsorship of my Green Card, but as it's an unconditional (10-year) card, I've learnt that I won't need my family's continued sponsorship to begin naturalization when I reach that point. Which is one piece of good news among the many in my story, but...still begs the question of what I'll be doing between September 2 and my birthday in early October.

  • #2
    RE:Would-be Emancipated Minor

    Hi there,

    Thanks for contacting us tonight and sharing your story with us. You seem like a very thoughtful person who’s dedicated to making a better life for yourself. It sounds like you’ve been put down (to say the least) so much by your parents. You’re kind of incredible for fighting through that and demanding a safe and celebratory environment for you. You seem to know that you deserve to be celebrated and that is absolutely true. So let’s see how we can help you out tonight.

    So we aren’t legal experts here, but we are able to speak in general as to what might happen. You are right in that it is not illegal for you to run away. Harboring a runaway can be a bit more confusing though. It is the right of your legal guardians to charge the person who you are staying with harboring a runaway. The consequences range from fines to jail time. If your parents don’t know where you are going, then it is less likely that they would be able to find you and thus charge the person with harboring a runaway. The threat of that charge ends when you turn 18. It sounds like you are in need of a more specific answer and unfortunately we don’t know the answer. Obviously, this may not happen and the police may not more forward with the charge. It really depends on the individual police officer who takes the report.

    In terms of what to do for the next month or so, that is up to you. If you decide to live with your friend, your friend may face potential legal consequences. Going to a shelter doesn’t seem like an option. You did mention that your job seems to understand your current situation with your parents. Do you think they would be willing to allow you to start after your birthday? That way you may not have to deal with your parents not allowing you to work and then you would be able to file a restraining order.

    We understand that talking through legal issues can be confusing and overwhelming. If you’d like to talk through anything at all you can contact us 24 hours a day at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929). We are completely confidential and anonymous. If you can’t call in, you can chat with us through our website ( from 4.30pm-11.30pm Central Time. We look forward to your call!

    Best of luck to you as you navigate this process,

    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

    Tell us what you think about your experience!


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