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Legality of running away across state lines

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  • Legality of running away across state lines

    Alright so here's the thing. I have a court hearing in another state regarding petition for guardianship over me in the state next to mine. After I was living with a temporary guardian who's guardianship expired, I was on my own (16 at the time) supporting myself with a full time job, bought a car, payed bills etc from January to June. I planned to file emancipation, however I needed a government ID to do so, and to obtain an ID I needed my parent there they said. Literally a week after this, my mother randomly showed up to my job and told my manager I had a family emergency so I would be let go for the night. She then proceeded to say she was taking me with her out of state to live with her. After this she cut off all resources of contact I had (no phone, no internet, not even allowed outside). My support system in my home state got a plan to file guardianship over me temporarily so that I could get emancipated afterwards. However, that court case is in two days and I have overheard my mother talking about not taking me and herself not even showing up. I know the court either needs my in-person statement or a notarized affidavit saying I agree to the guardianship. I do not have the notarized statement because I still do not have a govt ID, so I need to attend the hearing. Is it legal for me to "run away" so that I can go to the hearing? Or is it alright if the petitioner comes to my state to take me back for the hearing? I am currently 17 and 3 months old.

  • #2
    RE: Legality of running away across state lines

    Hello there –

    Thank you for getting into touch with us here at the National Runaway Safeline on our public bulletin board, we are always here to listen and here to help in any way that we possibly can. From your post on the board, it certainly sounds like you are going through a very tough time right now dealing with all the legal aspects and trying to keep up on what to do. Seems like it’s getting very overwhelmed with everything that has been going on. No one deserves to be treated that way; feeling isolated from your support circle that you’ve built up. You have every right to feel the way that you feel. It’s brave of you to reach out during your time of need. It can be very frustrating not knowing what to do or what your next step might be from this point on. It’s also great that you’re really thinking about what you want to do and researching your options.

    Now the laws on that specific subject of running away vary from state to state, so our advice would be call your local non-emergency police number to get more information on that. You could ask hypothetical questions that they can answer for you. Generally what typically happens in each state is if you are below the legal age of majority (18 in most states except Alabama and Nebraska [19 or upon marriage], and Mississippi [21]), your parents or legal guardian would be able to make a runaway report in the event that you do run away right away. Since it’s only considered a statues offense and not a crime to run away, the only thing that would happen is that the police will pick you up and bring you back home. This is of course if you had any interaction with the police directly or if they stopped you to ask you a few questions. This also applies even if you were to attend a court hearing. Any time that you leave your parent or legal guardian under the age of majority without permission it is considered running away.

    As far as your other question about the petitioner coming to get you and take you back to the court hearing is something that would have to be discussed with your mother. This is because if that person were to come and take you without permission, your mother can see that as kidnapping and change that person with aiding and abetting. Since we aren’t legal experts though we can’t tell you the outcome of that charge. It might be a good idea to get into contact with someone at the court to talk about what options that you do have.

    If you give us a call on our 24/7 hotline at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) we could help you find resources in your area and could potentially help you brainstorm a possible solution to the issues you are having. We also have an online chat service available every night from 4:30-11:30PM CST that is available through our website (
    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
      i have a ? if i am 18 and in my state (NE) age of majority is 19 can i run away to Another state where the age of majority is 18?


      • ccsmod0
        ccsmod0 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 seems there is a lot that you are faced with right now and you’re feeling like leaving is one of your only options. It seems you want to know some information on runaway laws.
        While we are not experts on the law, 18 is generally the age that an individual may leave home without parent permission. If you are under 18 and leave home, your parent/guardian may file you as a runaway and you may be returned home. Also, those you stay with may run the risk of being charged with harboring a runaway. For more specifics on the law, the local non-emergency police or legal aid may better answer legal questions. Odds are you will still be asked to returned home as you are considered a runaway in another state, but again we are not legal experts.
        The easiest way to leave home is with your parents' permission. We understand that might be challenging, however, maybe there’s another family member, relative, or a family friend who could help to communicate how you’re feeling to your parents. The second way is through Child Protective Services if safety is a concern. Lastly, you can also look into emancipation options. In most states you need to be at least 16 to be considered and demonstrate that you can support yourself financially and independently. Emancipation often can be a lengthy process and may even cost some money for court fees. We would be happy to look into legal resources if that’s something you are considering.
        We are here as support to help through this challenging time. We can best help by phone or chat as NRS is unable to respond more than twice by email to assist you. If you would like to talk more in detail please call or chat soon.
        Our contact information is 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929); (click on the chat button). If you would like to look into further support options, you can text with a crisis worker at the National Alliance on Mental Illness 24/7 by texting "NAMI" to 741741.
        If you are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately.
        Be safe,

        Please click the link below to fill out our survey:

    • #4
      in may 2019 i was taken away from my family and placed with my biological father. This whole year has been mentally and physically draining while living with him. I have reached out to the police 3 times in the past year regarding incidents that have happened in my home but they seem to brush it off their shoulders and i never hear from them again. let’s say if i were to leave my current home and go to my grandparents in another state what would most likely happen in the events of me running away to another state? what if i went to police when i landed there? would i be facing less issues going directly to the police rather than staying with a friend or family?


      • ccsmod2
        ccsmod2 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello There,
        Thank you for reaching The National Runaway Safeline, we are here to help and here to listen. It sounds like you are going through a difficult time right now. We are sorry to hear that the police have not helped you in your situation.
        We are not legal experts but we do have some information on what could happen. If you were to leave without permission your legal guardian could file a runaway report and if the police were to find you they most likely would bring you home. You mentioned the police not doing much so if you were to go talk to them it is a possibility they will still bring you home.
        We hope that this information will be helpful to you in your situation. If you have any other questions or would like to explore more options, please give us a call or chat with us. We are here 24/7 to listen and to provide support to you. Best of luck!

    • #5
      I am 15 my parents live in California. I have been living in a home with my aunt for the last 12 yrs my parents gave her temporary guardianship over me and she wouldn't give me back when it was time.
      For the past few years my Aunt and uncle have been doing drugs and not treating me good at all. If I go to my parents can they get in trouble?


      • ccsmod2
        ccsmod2 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello There,
        Thank you for reaching out to The National Runaway Safeline, we are here to help and here to listen. Wow it sounds like you are going through a difficult time right now, and we want you to know that you are not alone, we are here for you..
        Doing drugs in the home or anywhere around you is not safe and we are sorry that you are living in that environment. Because we are not legal experts we are not sure what would happen if you went to live with your parents. One option to consider would be to call your local police and explain your situation and they should be able to help you.
        We hope this information will be helpful to you in your situation. If you have any more questions or would like to explore more options please give us a call. We are here 24/7 to listen and to provide support. We wish you the best of luck!

    • #6
      I am a parent of 17 yr daughter who ran back to her home state of Pennsylvania when we moved to Arkansas. There is no abuse of any kind going on in my home.
      My daughter just didn't want to move because her friends & boyfriends live in PA. She is spoiled and used to getting what she wants.
      We moved because of all the bad influences on PA. My daughter is dependent on Marijuana and her boyfriend and his parents keep them supplied in it.
      what am I supposed to do...talking to her hasn't worked, I never heard of a teen that runs away because family moved away from the ghetto to a nice place
      please advice


      • ccsmod15
        ccsmod15 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline. We are here to listen and help as best as we can. It sounds like you are going through a really tough time not having your youth home and being unsure of their safety or what the consequences may be.

        One of the first options that can be important to explore is contacting your local law enforcement to file a runaway report. We are not legal experts here, but typically it is not illegal to runaway or leave home without permission. However, if a runaway report is filed, police that encounter a runaway youth will work to return them home when found. Keep in mind though, that the efforts made to search for runaway youth can vary from state to state or even within districts. Often it is up to the parents to advocate for themselves and keep track of the steps taken to find their youth.

        If you have a way to communicate with your child either email, text, phone, or social media you can inform them that we are offer confidential 24/7 support. We can try to locate some resources that could be of assistance, wherever they are located, to help keep them safe. If you do not have contact with your child, we also offer a message service where parents can call us to leave a message for their child. If the youth calls in, we can deliver this message. We also take messages from youth to their parents that we deliver as well. This can be a great option for you to express yourself in a safe, productive, and non-confrontational way. If you choose to utilize our message service, we encourage you to spread the word to anyone you think may be in contact with your child to increase the chances of your message being retrieved.

        Unfortunately we do not have a service that assists with locating youth, but there are agencies that offer to help in this way. One option is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which can be reached at 1-800-843-5678 or this link You can also try Child Find at 1800-426-5678 or at this link During a time like this, it can be important to remember your own self-care. Taking care of yourself and feeling heard can make an overwhelming situation more manageable. You can always call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY to talk or find additional resources.

        Finally, another option might be to contact the Arkansas juvenile court system to inquire about their Families in Need of Supervision program. They might be able to assist with resources that can help you deal with what's going on. The number to call is for that is (501) 340-6700.

        We hope this helps. And we hope everything turns out okay for you and your daughter. We are here for you both and welcome your call.

        All the best,
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