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Alabama Emancipation Laws vs. soon-to-be 17 year old in crisis

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  • Alabama Emancipation Laws vs. soon-to-be 17 year old in crisis

    Hi. My name is Grace. I live in Alabama, which is probably one of the worst states concerning emancipation laws. I live with my 40 year old mother, my seven year old brother, and my grandparents.
    My mother is horribly abusive, often steals from me, threatens me, and forces me to perform humiliating tasks, like pulling the grass out with my bare hands because I missed the bus today. I am at my wit's end. She refused to let me get a driver's license, because she wants me to have to rely on her for rides to work. She constantly demands money from me, or she "won't pick me up and she'll let me sleep on the pavement at work overnight". My mother makes less money than I do. She makes minimum wage, while I make $9 an hour. Upon discovery of this, she yelled at me and punished me. She regularly threatens to kill herself, and makes my brother cry by telling him that when she kills herself, he'll be forced into a foster home, where he'll probably get raped. She regularly cusses and screams at both of us. It's a tradition for her to reduce both of us to tears on our first day of school, and she succeeded once again this year. She spends all of her paychecks on drugs, alcohol, and fast food, and mooches off of my grandparents and makes them pay all the bills. She has threatened to move out of our grandparent's house, and to force my brother and I to be homeless and live in our car and not attend school. She has purposefully held us out of school before, just to exercise her own power and make our lives harder. She has almost all of the symptoms for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but refused to get help. She just takes out all of her frustrations on us, and I can't take it anymore.
    I have an 18 year old boyfriend whom I met at his work. We've been together in a very serious relationship for six months now. He is an honor student, who has a full ride scholarship to Auburn University this fall. He has his own car, and an apartment that he shares with his best friend.

    The point of making this thread was to get opinions on the likelihood of emancipating in my state. According to Alabama state law, the age of majority is 19. This means that I could be trapped under the boot off my mother for more than two more years, and I honestly can't handle it anymore. I need solutions. My mother has driven me to attempt suicide once, and I need to escape, whether that's by emancipation, and joining my boyfriend's lease, where I'll pay rent and live on my own, or running away and living with him anyways.

  • #2
    Hi Grace, thanks for reaching out to us at NRS. It sounds like your living situation has been pretty intolerable, considering your mother’s behavior that you described. We are also sorry that it has been so bad that it has led you to attempt suicide. If you are ever having thoughts again, please know that there is a 24 hour hotline that is there for you, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-8255.

    You also mentioned a few options for leaving home. According to the emancipation law, you are right in that it only alleviates minors from parental guardianship if they are over 18; however, according to Section 26-18-7 of Alabama law, termination of parental rights can “occur upon specific circumstances when there is clear evidence that the parent is unable to bear responsibility of the minor. Circumstances include abandonment of parent, abuse by parent, and mental illness of parent.” If you think these circumstances might apply and want to find out if your situation might allow for you to be emancipated, you can try either contacting Legal Services Corporation (88 288-5434, (877) 393-2333 or the National Child Abuse Hotline (800) 422-4453.

    You are also always welcome to contact us at (800) RUNAWAY to further discuss your situation and explore what other options might be out there to make things better for you. We are open 24/7, completely confidential, and here to listen.

    Best of luck!

    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!


    • #3
      My son's girlfriend is severally abused by her mother. Bothe physically and mentally. I need to know how much trouble I am going to get into for helping the 16 year old escape it before her mother ends up killing her.


      • ccsmod9
        ccsmod9 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there,
        Thank you for writing to us here at National Runaway Safeline (NRS). We understand it takes great courage to reach out, and we appreciate you sharing a little bit about what’s going on. It sounds like you’re quite worried over your son’s girlfriend well-being. We’re sorry she is going through this. We encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately. You may also be able to report any mistreatment to CPS. Child Help USA 1-800-422-4453 is an organization that helps protect minors from being harmed. It may also be a good place to explore options for staying with another family member or someone they trust as far as transferring custody.
        Often, having a safe space to share how you’re feeling may bring a variety of solutions previously not thought of. We want you to know that we are here as support to help she gets through this challenging time.
        If you would like to talk more in detail please chat soon through our website (click on the chat button) if you are unable to call in. We unfortunately cannot give advice as we are non-directive. You know your situation best
        We hope to hear from you soon.
        Be safe,

    • #4
      I am unhappy at home I'm was recently adopted for the 2nd time my parents are overly strict and I am on the verge of running away I am 17 what happens if I leave . Will I be arrested ? Will they come looking for me ?


      • ccsmod15
        ccsmod15 commented
        Editing a comment

        Thanks for reaching out to us. We’re sorry to hear that the situation at home has made you feel that it’s just not the right place for you. It sounds like you’re considering running away, and you have some questions about the consequences. We’re not legal experts, but we will share as much info as we can to help you figure out your next steps.

        Although we’re not legal experts, from what we understand, running away is not technically illegal, although it is considered a status offense in some states. If you are considered a minor in your state, your legal guardians can file a runaway report with your local police department if you leave without their consent. What the police do once the report is filed can vary from police department to police department. We have heard of some police departments taking the report, and not looking if the youth is 17. If your parents have an idea of where you might have gone and they share it with local police, the police might go to that location to see if you’re there. If you are located, typically police try to return you home or have your parents pick you up. As far as we know, you shouldn’t get arrested if running away isn’t illegal, but that would depend on your local police department.

        The best way to confirm what the police will do is to reach out to them directly at their non-emergency number and ask. You don’t have to identify yourself to ask questions, and the worst that can happen is that you’d have no less information than you already have. If you don’t know how to get ahold of your local police department, feel free to give us a call and we can help you find their contact information. If you feel like you need to talk to someone about what’s going on, or you feel like you need help calling your local police, please feel free to reach out to us as well. We can help you make the call, or call on your behalf if that’s what you would prefer. We’re here for you.

        Whatever you decide, know that we are here for you. We won’t tell you what to do, but we will do our best to help you stay safe with whatever you decide to do. You can reach out to us 24/7 by phone at 800.RUNAWAY (786.2929). We are also available every day via chat. We’re here to listen, here to help. Stay safe!


    • #5
      Hi I'm 15 years old and currently living in Alabama with my mother and 2 younger sisters. My mom and dad separated and he currently lives out of state. I have always experienced abuse with my father and for the past few years I started noticing my mother doing it too. She leaves me and my sisters home alone for days on end without telling us and answering calls or messages. She is always leaving out of state with her boyfriends and partying spending all money on herself. My sisters and I have been wearing clothes that are 3 to 4 years old and friends typically give us clothes and shoes. My mother has abused me mentally for years when I was around 10 she attempted to commit suicide multiple times because she claimed I didnt love her. She took a handful of pills and pretended to swallow them to see how i would react and she has ran out to oncoming traffic in front of me. She has also purposely swerved her car while driving to make me think we would wreck. She always makes my 10 year old sister cook daily and stays in her room or not home at all. She screams and cusses all the time and physically hits me in my face and banged my head against windows. She claims I will rot in hell and says I'm a disappointed. She constantly verbally and emotionally abuses me. She recently kicked me out and proceeded to call the cops and report me as a runaway. They told me if I did anything else like that or to make her mad they will arrest me. She then called them again and claimed i stole her medication and took it. They took me to a hospital and she lied and tried to get me sent to a mental facility. She claimed I cut my wrists and stole her medication to kill myself and claimed I tried to run away. She also took me out of school so now currently I'm at home all day with my sisters. Is there anyway I can get out of this situation and can I emancipate myself?


      • ccsmod1
        ccsmod1 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hey there,

        Thanks so much for reaching out and sharing a little bit about what’s been going on, we know that it takes a lot of courage. It must be really hard to live in a home where your basic needs aren't being met. Your mom's behavior sounds really erratic and it's got to be scary to be around. You and your sisters deserve to live somewhere that is safe.

        A lot of things you mentioned about your mom's actions (leaving you home alone for days at a time, hitting you in the face) are abusive and neglectful. Absolutely no one deserves to be abused. We care a lot about your safety and if you are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately. If any harm or abuse is happening at home, you have the right to report it. If you feel like this is an option you want to explore, you may find this website helpful: We can also help you to file a report if that’s the route you are considering. It may also be a good idea to explore options for staying with another family member or someone you trust as far as transferring custody, and you may also want to document any injuries that may have resulted from your mother's abuse.

        We’re not legal experts here at NRS, so we can’t give you any legal advice regarding emancipation. Emancipation is an option in the state of Alabama but there are certain rules and qualifications about who can and cannot be emancipated. Emancipation can often be a lengthy and expensive process. You may want to reach out to a legal aid group for assistance with the emancipation process/eligibility requirements. If you'd like, you can try contacting Legal Services Corp at 888-288-5434 or Legal Services Corp of Alabama at 877-393-2333.

        If you’d like to go over what’s going on in depth, or if you’d like to explore other options that you may have available to you, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY. You can also chat us by clicking on the “CHAT” button on top of our homepage. We’re open 24/7 and here to listen and support you in any way we can.

        Stay safe,
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