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Can I leave my home at 16 without my parents' consent?

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  • I am 15 I will be turning 16 in May and I hate my home life if I could leave home at 16 could I live with someone who isn’t family


    • ccsmod16
      ccsmod16 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you for reaching out to us; we are glad that you did.
      It sounds like you are having a rough time at home and would like to live somewhere else.
      The answer to your question is: it depends. It depends on what you think your parents/guardians would do if you left; it depends on the laws in your state; it depends on what is happening to you at home.
      We hope that you will reach out to us in a way that we can talk and listen, and then help you discover your options. You can reach us by phone at 1-800-786-2929 (1-800-RUNAWAY) or via live chat through We are here for you to listen and help and so we hope that we will hear from you soon.

  • Hi my name is zaah. I am 16 and am living with my aunt and uncle. They are no legal guardians. I haven’t lived with my mom in almost a year and I just moved out of my dads because of abuse issues. There is a dhs safety act that says I do not need to see my dad or live with him ever again. It is indefinite. If I were to up and leave would I get in trouble? Would my dad be able to do anything about it? I would like to get emancipated but the process is so hard I don’t think it will ever happen


    • ccsmod15
      ccsmod15 commented
      Editing a comment
      Hello! Thank you for reaching out.

      It sounds like you’re in a difficult situation right now, and we want you to know that you’re not alone. You’ve mentioned that there was abuse in the home with your dad, and your aunt and uncle are not your legal guardians. You haven’t lived with mom in over a year either, and you’re really brave for going back and forth with this occurring situation. In most states, anyone under 18 is considered a minor. Unfortunately we’re not legal experts, but if you were to leave out on your own, whoever your current guardian is, could file a runaway report with the authorities. If you end up staying with someone, they may end up facing some consequences for harboring a runaway.

      In the same way, we care about your safety, and wouldn’t want you being out on the streets. An option you could explore would be to talk to someone in school about why you want to leave where you are currently residing in, and explore options that the school may give you, as far as your living situation. Your school counselor or social worker can see if there is any shelters in your area, and talk about living arrangements between you and your father. If there is still abuse occurring wherever you are, you can contact the national child abuse hotline at 1800) 422-4453, and talk to them about your situation anonymously.

      Emancipation usually takes about a year, and you have to prove to the court that you are able to financially take care of yourself and your education. You can file a petition with your local court if you feel like you meet the requirements in your state, and talk to a legal experts further about this matter.

      We hope that the options we explored with you are able to assist you. If you need additional resources, or want us to call somewhere on your behalf, you can reach out to us anytime at 1800) 786-2929, or chat with us online at the Best of luck!

  • Hi, if you do leave home and stay at a friends what sort of consequences will they face? Is there a way for them to not face consequences since it would be leaving in sound mind and body and going to them with consent of being there?


    • ccsmod13
      ccsmod13 commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi there,

      Thanks for reaching out to National Runaway Safeline. You asked a couple of great questions. We are not legal experts here at NRS, but we can speak generally from what we know of runaway laws.

      If you leave home without permission from your parents, they can report you as a runaway. This is not illegal, but your parents can have the police return you home. Although it is rare, there is a possibility that the parents of the friends you are staying with can be charged with harboring a runaway.

      If you have permission from your parents then you can stay with friends without consequences. If you are living somewhere that is safe and supportive with the consent of your legal guardians then it is a legal alternative living arrangement. In this case your friend's parents would not face consequences for you staying there.

      We hope this information answers your questions. If you would like to talk more about your situation and your next steps, please do not hesitate to reach out anytime. You can contact us 24/7 by phone at 1-800-786-2929 or use our live chat services at

      Good luck,

  • ok i'm 17, my parents are going out of state for four days and want to force me to stay with a friend when i'd rather stay at home. they say that they can't trust me even though they are best friends with our neighbor who can easily check on me. they said they are going to leave me with a family i don't really like being with for more than a few hours. they said they're locking up the house and i'm pretty sure that's illegal but i can't find the right research to find out anything about what rights i have at this point.


    • ccsmod10
      ccsmod10 commented
      Editing a comment

      Thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline. We are not legal experts but hopefully we can help answer some of your questions. 18 years old is generally the age that an individual may leave home or go where they want without permission from their parent or legal guardian. If you are under 18 and leave home or are somewhere without permission, your parent/guardian may file a runaway report with the police. What actions the police take once you are filed as a runaway can vary a lot from state to state and even city to city so we cannot predict exactly what would happen in your case. Generally speaking, if you encounter a police officer while reported as a runaway, you will likely be returned home or to where your parents say you should be. However, in that case there may be services (family counseling, etc.) available to you as a youth in crisis/runaway but again, police procedures related to offering those services can be different based on your location or the details of your situation. Another thing to consider is that while running away is not a crime, a legal adult who allows you to stay with them may be putting themselves at risk for being charged with harboring a runaway. One way to find out the laws in your area is to call your local police and ask what their policies are regarding runaway youth.

      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).
      We hope to hear from you soon.

      Be safe


  • Im 20 and my girlfriend is 16 and we are thinking about loving away together and we wonder how could we do that legally and safely


    • ccsmod0
      ccsmod0 commented
      Editing a comment
      Hey there,

      We appreciate you reaching out to see what legal and safe options you and your girlfriend have. While we are not experts on the law, 18 is generally the age that an individual may leave home without parent permission. If she is under 18 and leave home, her parent/guardian may file her as a runaway and she may be returned home. Also, if she stays with you, you 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.

      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 are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately.

      Be safe,

  • Hi I’m 16 and live In New Mexico. I live with my mom currently but I would like to move out with my grandma because living with my mom causes me way too much stress. I have two jobs and school but when I come home from work to do school she insists I help her with all this other stuff and she doesn’t get I need to do school and she has an 11 year old who could help her but she doesn’t say anything to them. I want to move in with my grandma and I know for a fact my mom would not allow it. If I move in with my grandma can my mom take me away?


    • ccsmod1
      ccsmod1 commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi there,

      Thank you so much for reaching out! We know that these situations can be difficult to figure out, and it takes a lot of courage to reach out to us. It sounds like you may be feeling stressed from school and work, but our mom is still expecting a lot from you. It seems like that could definitely be a lot for you to handle.

      Here at NRS we are not legal experts, but we know what generally could happen. It is legally possible to live in an alternate living arrangement, but you would need your mom’s permission. If you were to leave without permission, your mother could file a runaway report with your local police department. If that is something she chose to do, then you could be returned home. Also, after you were returned your mom may also choose to press harboring a runaway charges against whoever you stay with. We know this doesn’t happen very often, but it’s definitely something to consider when weighing your options.

      It sounds like you feel your mom may not listen to you sometimes. Maybe there are some situations and times when discussing how you’re feeling with your mom will be the most productive. Sometimes, writing her a letter or descriptive text can also help get across everything you are trying to say. If you feel that this may not be a possibility, maybe it could be a good idea to think of some trusted adults you could confide in, like a teacher or your grandma. Maybe talking to a trusted adult about how you have been wanting to leave home will help you decide what is best. We would also love to support you through this by calling with us at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or chatting with us through our website.

      We hope that this information can help as you decide what is best for you. If you need any further support, please do not hesitate to call or chat with us!

      Best of luck


  • So I’m 16 and I live in Pennsylvania. I can’t stand my parents Bc one they won’t let me get a license two I can’t hang out with friends three I can’t go anywhere alone four I have zero privacy like no door knob in my bedroom door five I can’t go outside of my property six I can’t go hunting Bc they say I would hurt myself seven if I leave the house they said they will file a runaway report and lie about me abusing someone and make me get a juvenile offense and face court eight I can’t talk to anyone nine they need to know everything ten I can’t get a job Bc they are way too lazy to take me and my sister which is 21 dosnt have a license Bc of my parents not taking her Bc they say I was working all day and my dad for one gets home at 3 which I get out of school at that time he picks me up goes home takes dogs out and then from 4 to when he gets to bed he drinks beer. Like bruh you have no time. He can just leave if he thinks that. My mom I can see she gets off at 7 so I’m with her on that but that’s not what I’m trying to say. I have no freedom I feel like I’m in a tiny box locked up for eternity. One day I tried to get a job and they were like I don’t know what time he can work. I can’t get a job Bc they said he can’t work on school nights like come on now my dad has the whole day and says I can only work on sat. And sun. I can’t get a job if I only work two days. I just wanna leave this hell hole. My only thing I can think of is death. That’s how depressed I’ve been. I’ve been that way when I was 10 till now. I just can’t live with them I wanna leave those world is my last resort is what it seems. Plz help Bc I can’t live this way.


    • ccsmod7
      ccsmod7 commented
      Editing a comment
      Hello, thank you so much for reaching out to us. We are deeply sorry to hear about your current situation, it sounds very unfair. It must be difficult living in such a smothering household, you do not deserve that. It seems unreasonable that your parents won’t let you get a job working more than two days, that you can’t go out alone, hang out with friends, go hunting, get your license or even have a doorknob on your bedroom door. It also must be hard to deal with your dad drinking beer for the rest of the day after picking you up from school. It is understandable that you would want to leave, and it is unfair that your parents say they will file a report and lie about you abusing someone if you runaway. We want you to know that we are so proud of you for coming to us with your thoughts on suicide, you are very brave. Although things are hard right now, you are trying to consider your different options which is really good to see and we are going to try to help you in any way we can.
      To begin we would like to address your mention of depression and thoughts of death, if you ever find yourself in immediate danger then we urge you to dial 9-1-1. If you ever would like to talk to someone about these thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Line is free and available 24-7. Their number is 1-800-273-8255. Turning to look at your concern of leaving, although it is not illegal for a minor to run away from home, it is possible for your parents to press charges on someone for harboring a runaway if you decide to stay with someone. If you would like some information on emancipation please call or chat us. If you ever are in need to come up with a plan, find more resources or shelters in your area, get more information, or just talk then we would like to offer our serves as well. Our number is 1-800-786-2929 and we are also free and available 24-7.

      Again, we’re really glad that you decided to reach out to us. It takes a lot to ask for help and you are doing a great job so far. Your life is valuable and you sound like a strong, intelligent and capable person. If you would like to talk further about your situation, please do not hesitate to call or chat with us. We’re here to listen, here to help.
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