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Can my 17 year old son legally temporarily live with his 21 year old brother?

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  • Can my 17 year old son legally temporarily live with his 21 year old brother?

    My 17 year old son is not a runaway, and I know that's the focus of this website -- but as a parent, I need help finding the answer to my question and I HOPE someone can help me on this forum. I recently remarried and my 12 year old daughter and I moved in with my new husband and my new step son. However unfortunately I have not yet been able to sell my house. The long term goal is to sell both houses and then buy a bigger house that will be roomier for all of us. For now though, we have his house and my house. The 2 houses are in the same town and they are only 5 minutes from each other. My oldest son is 21 years old and is very responsible. He is still living at my house, not only because he is 21 and is enjoying the adventure of having a little space of his own, but also because we all agree it is best for the house to look lived in for security purposes; car in the driveway, lights on in the evening, etc. My 17 year old son is emotionally close with his brother and wants to stay over at my house with him. I personally do not have any problem with this because they are both responsible and trust worthy, because my oldest is legally an adult, and because my new husband and I are literally a phone call, text, or 5 minute drive away if they need anything. They join us at the "new" house for dinners and evenings after work and school. We get together all the time. I am at my house at least several times a week working to get it ready to list on the real estate market. I pay all the bills for my house. We pick up groceries for them. I bought and gave them grocery store gift cards as well to pay for anything they may need if they choose to go to the store on their own. I'm still right here to support, talk, make school and medical decisions, buy things as needed, everything I did before. They basically would just sleep there and hang out there on and off. My mother is only 2 streets away from them if they were to need anything, she can help them as well. We do have room for them at the "new" house, (my husband's house) if they wanted to move in. SO....... I don't actually see anything wrong with the 17 yr old staying at that house with his 21 year old brother, but my ex-husband - the kids' father -- is claiming to me that it is illegal for the 17 yr. old to be over there because his brother - although 21 - is not his legal guardian. He said he found that answer online, but the only answer I found online was that 17 year olds can't live ALONE. He's not alone, he's with a legal adult. What if he wanted to stay with his grandmother until our house sold? She's obviously a legal adult as well. That would be illegal too? Why is this different? From what I've read, I can only find situations that are very different, like kids living with relatives in other states or kids needing temporary guardianship appointed to another adult other than parents because the parents can't be around to make emergency medical decisions, etc. This is not the case with us. Now my Ex is saying that if the 17 yr. old lives over there, we could have the authorities after us because he thinks it is illegal and he thinks we'd get in trouble, lose our jobs, and get arrested. He also actually spoke with our son about his "options," encouraging him to look into the emancipation process. The ex then said to me that if it were an emancipation situation, he could legally take me back to court to have his child support adjusted. This makes me think the whole big issue is just about him finding a way to get his child support lowered. Sadly this would be very much like him to try to do this. My ex also offered for him to live with him, but my son said he does not want to live with his father. For the record technically we have joint custody but I have always been the full time-custodial parent since our divorce meaning they have always lived with me 100%. The kids never lived with him, he just does visits here and there. Thanks for reading this long story and for listening, and if anyone actually made it to the end of my post, anyone out there have any insight? If it matters, we live in Connecticut. Maybe laws differ state by state. THANK YOU!

  • #2

    Thank you for reaching out to us at the National Runaway Safeline. We’re here 24/7 to support.

    We are not legal experts, but generally speaking a youth is able to live with someone else as long as the guardian gives them permission. Police would not go looking for a child for the most part unless there is a runaway report filed. Especially with all of the details you gave about him being so close and you being in contact with him, it shouldn’t be a problem to live with the brother or grandmother or anyone else. If it seems like your ex is threatening to take some sort of action if this happens, we would just encourage you to seek out legal aid to get the answers that you need. It would depend on what the stipulations are of the custody of your child. To be sure, I would reach out to the legal aid just so you have the information you need on hand when speaking to your ex. If you need help finding legal aid in your area, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) so we can look that up in your city and state. You could also reach out to your local police and ask them about your situation, but a legal expert could look more at the specifics of your case. In this case, though, it seems like the issue would be more about the status of your joint-custody than it would be about general state laws regarding youth living away from a parent.

    Good Luck,

    Last edited by ccsmod1; 11-22-2017, 02:50 AM.
    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
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    Tell us what you think about your experience!


    • #3
      I am so very appreciative of your expertise and prompt reply. I understand what you are saying and this does allow me a starting point to some answers. I will call your number to get some information for obtaining legal aid in my area. Thank you so very much! Any additional readers who may also have personal insight will be very much appreciated.


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