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Can I legally move out of my parents house at 17 in Illinois?

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  • Can I legally move out of my parents house at 17 in Illinois?

    I am currently 16 years old. I turn 17 in about 2 weeks and I could possibly be pregnant. My parents would try and force me to get an abortion. We do not get along at all. I cut for five years because of this h**l hole. I am ready to be out of this house and if I am pregnant, I want to do what is best for the child. I would get a job, live with a friend, continue schooling, and raise my child. No matter what it takes. I just do not want to deal with being labeled a "runaway" or having to deal with being brought back home like I' m an immagrant. Do you know what the laws regarding this in Illinois are? Winnebago county more specifically.

  • #2
    Re: Can I legally move out of my parents house at 17 in Illinois?

    Hello and thanks for reaching out on our forum. It sounds like you’re dealing with a lot right now on top of the possibility of pregnancy. We’re sorry to hear you and your parents don’t get along at all. We imagine it is also hard feeling like they would force you to have an abortion rather than supporting you parent your child. Please know we are not here to judge you regardless of what you decide should you find out you’re pregnant. You might find the following website, helpful as they provide information and support for pregnancy and other sexual health topics.

    We aren’t legal experts; however, we can go over in general what tends to happen in runaway situations. Running away is normally a status offense which means it’s not illegal per se, just that minors haven’t reached the age of majority (18 in most cases) yet. It’s understandable not wanting to be labeled as a runaway, although without permission to leave from parents/guardians or successful emancipation it can be tough. Illinois offers something called CCBYS (Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services) which can be a way of receiving services if you are between the ages of 11 and 17 and are experiencing a crisis such as running away or being kicked out of the home. The CCBYS information and referral line is 877-870-2663.

    We are here to discuss your situation further as well. You’re more than welcome to reach us directly through our Live Chat which should open today at 4:30pm CST. 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
      Hi, im 17 years old and i turn 18 in october... I have had many problems with my mom, me, and my brother. When he was 17 she kicked him out and he was on his own... She tried kicking me out twice but always changes her mind and says she will report me as a runaeay if i leave. I understand im not the best to live with but i think what i really need is to be on my own and find out what it means to be responsible... So basically my question is... If i leave can i bintrouble with the law even though im close to being 18


      • ccsmod5
        ccsmod5 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks so much for writing in. It sounds like being at home is not an ideal situation for you and it makes sense that you would want to remove yourself from a stressful situation. We’re not legal experts, but we can try to answer your question to the best of our ability and give general information. So generally speaking, you need to be 18 to leave home without your legal guardian’s permission. If your mom does report you as a runaway and the police find you, they would most likely return you home. Beyond this, you wouldn’t usually get into any legal trouble. Running away is not a crime punishable by jail time or anything like that. If you’d like to speak more specifically about your situation to figure out your next steps or locate resources, please feel free to reach out to us at 1-800-786-2929. Our lines are open 24/7, so someone will always be here to listen and to help. We wish you the best of luck and we hope this information was helpful. We encourage you to give your honest feedback of our forum services at the following link: . Stay safe!

    • #4
      I am 17 years old and I have a son 8 weeks old. I have already graduated high school a year and a half early and would like to move in with my boyfriend of 5 years and his mother. We live in Indiana. Ever since my mother found out I was pregnant, she has basically treated me as a prisoner in her home. She tries to keep me from being with the father of my son and has set very strict rules all of which we have followed. Now, because we have followed all of the rules, she is making things up saying she told me to be home by dinner when the normal time is 9 o’clock even though she knew I was going to their house for Easter dinner. My boyfriend and I have very strong suspicions that she is on crack cocaine and or meth along with possibly making it in the home. I tried to leave home when I was about three months pregnant and my aunt was trying to get legal guardianship. We sent information to a judge that handles my child custody case between my parents. I was abused at my fathers home so my mother was awarded custody of me and now I am being treated horrible for having a child. The judge sent all the letters we had written to my mother stating that if he heard this case, I would have to retain a lawyer. I am not able to afford a lawyer and neither is my boyfriend and his family. So my question is to you, would I be in legal trouble if I left my mothers home with my two month old son to go live with my boyfriend’s family? Also, would they be in legal trouble for taking us in?


      • ccsmod10
        ccsmod10 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there,

        Thanks for reaching out to us tonight. We take every bulletin we get very seriously, and your situation is no different. It sounds like you’re going through a lot because of your mom. We cannot imagine how scary and stressful living in that environment must be, especially with a baby.

        First off, we want to tell you that you have a right to report your mom’s drug use and possible drug manufacturing in your house. We know that reporting all of that sounds scary, so if you want more information on it please don’t hesitate to either call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY or the child abuse hotline at 1-800-422-4453. The National Child Abuse Hotline can really help you out with talking about options you have and what the reporting process looks like.

        We’re happy to hear that you and your boyfriend are wanting to move in with each other, it sounds like you two really care for on another. You deserve supportive people like that in you and your child’s life. Regarding your question about moving in with him, we can give a general answer. If your state's majority age is 18, you cannot be forced to return home after leaving regardless if you leave the state or not. It can be a little tricky at the age of 17, but there are some cases in which a police officer won't take a runaway report for someone that is 17. This is not the case all the time of course, but it is something that we have heard of happening before. Regarding him getting into trouble, there is a misdemeanor charge called “harboring a runaway”. It’s really not common and it costs money for parents to take those people to court. We rarely hear about people getting into trouble for letting a runaway stay with them. The only way to know for sure of that would be to reach out to your local non-emergency police and asking them hypothetical questions about running away.

        We also have legal aid resources in our database. While we’re not law experts, we can try to find one in your area, there may be legal ways for you and your baby to be able to move out of your house. We’re here to try to brainstorm options with you.

        We hope our response is helpful. Also, talking to school counselors and teachers about what’s going on at home could provide you with great support. You are not alone in this. You are always welcome to call into our 24/7 crisis center if you'd like to talk more about your situation.

        Be safe, NRS

    • #5
      I’m 17.7 years old. I want to leave my mom home and live with my dad. Do I need my mom Permission? I’m going to leave either way. Could my dad get in trouble?


      • ccsmod8
        ccsmod8 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello –

        Thank you for reaching out to us here on our public forum. Hopefully by helping you through your crisis, there are others in similar situations that can find it helpful as well. It can be hard not to know what do to in this situation. It’s great that you are able to reach out for help in your current situation, it’s very brave of you to do that. It must be very frustrating.

        Since your parents are divorced and/or separated, it might be that one parent gets awarded primary custody. So depending on who that might be, you would have to follow the rules or direction of that parent. So if it were your father that is primary guardian, then you might be able to just move back with the help of your mother. If it is your mother that is, then you might be stuck there until you do reach the age of majority and just move out. If you haven't already maybe it might be something that you can talk to your father about since you seem to express an interest in going to live with him. Only you know when you need to leave due to your home being unsafe. Unfortunately no one but you can make that decision for you, not even here.

        We hope this response was helpful!

    • #6
      I Kno someone who is 17, and he is turning 18 in 5 months. Can he move out next month?


      • ccsmod13
        ccsmod13 commented
        Editing a comment

        Thanks for reaching out to NRS. This is a great question as runaway laws can be a bit confusing.Generally speaking, if your friend leaves home without permission before he turns 18 then his legal guardians(his parents) can report him as a runaway. This basically means that if he comes into contact with law enforcement or they know where you friend is, they might return him home. Runaway protocol can vary state by state and even by county sometimes. You or your friend can call the local police department's non-emergency number to anonymously ask questions about their runaway protocol. In some cases police do not even take runaway reports for someone who is 17 years old.

        If your friend would like to talk more in depth about his situation or would like support deciding on his net steps, he can reach out anytime by phone or chat.

        Good luck,

    • #7
      I got accepted into an Art mentoring program, I am in the Army National Guard, I am also a senior in high school but I am only 17 and I turn 18 in 3 months. I need to move out of my moms house immediately is it legal?


      • ccsmod9
        ccsmod9 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hey there,
        Thanks for reaching out to us at the National Runaway Safeline (NRS). We are here to help you in any way we can.
        You mentioned that you were just accepted into an Art mentoring program. That is so exciting! Congratulations to you. You also said that you are in the Army National Guard. Thank you for your service. It must be difficult to feel like you have these exciting next steps on the horizon as a senior, but as a minor you are still supposed to keep to your mom’s rules.
        In the state of Illinois, 17 is still considered the age of minority, so if you do leave home without your mom’s permission, this would be considered running away. If you want to find out more about what the age of minority means in Illinois, feel free to visit We are not legal experts, but our understanding is that running away is not illegal, it is just considered a status offense, or something you cannot do solely because of your age. If you do leave home and your mom were to report you to the police, if the police do locate you, our understanding is that their main priority would be to return you home safely. Unless you have run away several times, which would qualify you as a “chronic” runaway, there most likely will not be any legal action further than returning you home. Also, since you are so close to the age of majority, 18, the police might not put as much effort into locating you. This changes by police department, and if you would like to hear how your particular police station handles runaways, you can call in yourself or call in here to NRS at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929), and we could call out anonymously on your behalf.
        Another thing to consider is that for these programs, if that is where you are planning to move, you might not a parent/guardian signature if you are under the age of 18. If you are thinking about staying with a friend or somewhere independently, it is important to consider how you would sustain yourself with housing, food, clothing, and all of those basic necessities. We are also happy to talk through those things with you if you want to call in at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929).
        If you have any other questions or want to talk about your situation a little bit more in depth, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or chat with us at We are a 24/7, completely confidential safeline. Here to listen, here to help.
        Best of luck,

    • #8
      i’m 15 years old and i wanna run away but i have no where to go and i don’t wanna get my parents in trouble and i don’t wanna go back to living with them and i have a short amount of time before i get my phone taken


      • ccsmod15
        ccsmod15 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello –

        Thank you for contacting us here at the National Runaway Safeline. We understand that it takes great courage to reach out. We are sorry to hear that life at home has led you to want to run away, that sounds like a difficult situation to deal with. It is very considerate of you to think of your parents as well in this situation.

        The best way to discuss your situation further and how we can be of assistance is either by calling in to our 24 hour crisis hotline (1-800-786-2929) or utilizing our online chat.

        Best Wishes

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