How can a minor get out of an abusive home to live with a family member?

Asked about 1 year ago - Salem, OR

I am in an abusive home and have PTSD from past experiences. I have had many family members and friends tell me I should get out of this situation. Recently I had some family friends offer for me to go live with them until I turn 18
In 1 1/2 years. I was wondering how this could happen without my abusers getting a criminal record.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Stephen Ross Cohen

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . You should go to legal aid and seek a consultation with an attorney and explain in confidential discussion what the abuse was.

    My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA.... more
  2. Jay Bodzin

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . If your parents or legal guardians consent to it, you can go live with anyone else who will have you. No one will get a criminal record and no official action needs to be taken at all. (Your parents will still need to consent to things like medical and educational decisions for you. If they're willing, your parents can sign a power of attorney form granting someone else the right to make these decisions on their behalf.)

    If your parents aren't willing to let you leave, then if you do leave, they can use legal means to get you back. To get out in that situation, you'd need to have a court order it. There are two different legal systems that could control this. The normal civil court can make a ruling if some other adult is prepared to sue your parents for custody. They would have to prove that they've acted in a parent-like capacity towards you, and that you're in imminent risk of serious harm if left in your parents' care. This is a very, very hard standard to meet, though it is possible sometimes. But it only really works for adults who've already had the child living with them a lot of the time.

    The other system is the juvenile court. If someone were to call your county child abuse reporting hotline (see this page for a complete list: http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/children/pages/abuse/... ), the Department of Human Services (DHS)'s Child Protective Services (CPS) division would send out a case worker to make a report. If they found that an abusive situation existed, they would either remove you from the home right away, or, if it looked less serious, enter an "action plan" that compelled your parents to do certain things, under the threat of taking you away if they don't. CPS's decisions are wholly unaccountable and uncontrollable, and often look random to people caught up in them. The only real way to have these decisions reviewed is to defy them to the point that they file a case in juvenile court, and then ask a judge to review the situation. The process is intensely time-consuming and can be very frustrating for everyone involved. Both parents and children have the right to court-appointed counsel during this process. Again, though, no one will get a "criminal record." Juvenile proceedings are not criminal - in fact, they are entirely confidential. The only way a criminal case could happen would be if someone is charged with a crime. That decision would have to be made by the police and District Attorney. (There is no such thing as "pressing charges" for private citizens. You can't compel any criminal prosecution - or refuse one.)

    You may have noticed a recurring theme here. The regrettable truth is that minors have no real legal right to file legal petitions or take any legal action to change their custody situation - these have to be done by adults on their behalf. This is just as true for 17-year-olds as it is for 7-year-olds. Though a court will certainly take the opinions of a 17-year-old more seriously. About the only thing a minor can do to legally affect a custody matter is to make a child abuse report. And you really want to think carefully before doing this - it can set into motion a lot of machinery that no one can control.

    You may want to start by contacting Youth Rights & Justice (formerly known as the Juvenile Rights Project, online at http://www.youthrightsjustice.org/ ). They specialize in representing minors, and can meet with you in private to discuss your situation.

    Please read the following notice:

    Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and... more
  3. Tara Kaylene Millan

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

    Answered . Firstly, my heart goes out to you. How stressful and sad it must be for you to realize the need to be apart from family.

    Secondly, let me say how encouraged I am by what you wrote. Hang in there-you are seeking solutions and seem logical about the situation-your future can be very bright with your attitude and focus! Hang in there!

    You have had counseling to know that you have PTSD-I assume. I suggest talking to your counselor about this. You can also go to the county mental health department in your area if you feel the need to talk things out. They may have suggestions on lawyers.

    My colleagues provided you with great and detailed advice. I would suggest that you seek out legal aide office in your area and have a sit down with them to see what options are available to you.

    Very best of luck to you!

    This reply is not an attempt to solicit business. Tara Millan's reply is not to be considered a legal opinion... more

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