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Is it Legal For a 16 Year Old to Go Out of Town Without Parental Permission?

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  • Is it Legal For a 16 Year Old to Go Out of Town Without Parental Permission?

    I have known the family for 20 years, the 28 year old sister works for me. The 16 year old sister wants me to drive her out of town to visit a college campus where she has been accepted. She is trying to decide which college to attend in the fall. We will not be doing anything illegal and won't be gone overnight. But it is 130 miles away (I am an excellent driver with experience, a good car, insurance, emergency road service, contingency plans, etc). I will pay for gas and food. First i told the girl that she has to get her mother's permission. The sisters do not want to ask their mother, because they think it is unlikely that she will give permission, but she will not take the girl herself. They say the mom will never even know she is gone, she doesn't keep close tabs on the girl. My husband thinks that I can get in legal trouble if mom finds out I took the girl out of town. It's not that the mom thinks the girl will be in danger, it's just that she doesn't want her children to have enough strength and independence to survive on their own. For example, she resents that her older daughter has worked for me for a few years. She doesn't want her daughter to work, even though she didn't have any money, she didn't want her daughter to be able to get a place of her own, which she, in her late 20s was old enough, and finally did both anyway, and is very happy. The mom really resents me for giving her older daughter an option to live independently. Both daughters see mom every day, i am not trying to divide mother and daughters, in fact I encourage them to love and support their mother. There is no father or other relative to get permission from. I worry that if I don't take the girl, she will get someone else to take her, with whom she would not be as safe. The older sister won't take her because she has a child who doesn't like long drives, also scheduling conflicts.

  • #2
    Thank you for contacting us. It sounds like you have been a positive influence on these sisters. Having a supportive person in their lives when their mother discourages them from having their independence and normal and development is hard for them, and your presence and support may make all the difference for them.

    While we aren’t able to give legal advice, we can encourage things to consider: The youth’s mother does have the right to press charges or file a runaway report if she chooses to; if the college in another state, transporting a minor across state lines, or even something akin to kidnapping. Even a high school field trip requires a permission slip, so you are right to proceed with caution. It is understandable that you want to help in any situation that you can, especially given your long association with the family.

    If the youth’s mom already resents you the situation may escalate. Your first instinct of getting mom’s permission is the wisest course. Something else to consider is that the youth is only 16, can she wait till next year to visit the college on her own? At the very least, since you are taking all of the risk in this situation, insisting that both sisters make the trip is not unreasonable. We hope this helps you to make your decision.

    If you would like to talk further about your situation, please feel free to reach out to us directly at 1-800-RUNAWAY.

    We hope this response was helpful! We'd love to hear from you about your experience using our crisis email/forum. Your feedback plays an important role in helping us improve our services to support youth and families. Please click the link below to fill out our survey.

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

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