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Legal age to move out

Grand Prairie, TX |

My husband's little cousin is 16 years of age. He will turn 17 in 2 months. His family is very abusive to him (emotionaly) and treat him very badly. When he lived across the street form me he would be at my house everyday because he did not want to go home and deal with the pain of his family and to eat. He spent the summer with us and now wants to live with us because he can not take it with his family anymore. He is very depressed and his family cuts him down all the time. They only make it worse for him. He is a very happy person when he is with us. I know in Texas it can vary some say that its 17 and some say that it is 18 and I want to know which one it is. He wants to be with us so he can finish out school here and do it in peace. He lives in Dallas county.

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Attorney answers 2


Unless his parents give him permission or he becomes emancipated, then the age to move out is 18. Sorry.

Although I have answered the question to try to help you, you should consult with a lawyer in your area in person on the matter. In addition, my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us.



But he can move out if he wants to and really just depends on the cop and if the parents even call on him right? I remember when i was 17 I moved out of home and the cop that came to my house said that he could not do anything but asked me to call my mom. So it really just depends right?

Cynthia Russell Henley

Cynthia Russell Henley


Legally - not only could the police make him go home, they can prosecute the people with whom he is staying for harboring a runaway.


No, legally he can't make that decision for himself until the day he turns 18. He's an adult for criminal purposes when he turns 17, and maybe that's where some of that confusion comes from, I don't know. Yes, in reality lots of kids DO move out when they're 17, and nobody really seems to much care or be interested in doing anything about it, but then, that "nobody" factor typically includes their parents. If this boy (your "cousin-in-law"?) has a situation where his parents are abusive, they may not care, and may actually be thankful to get rid of him, in which case there's not a problem there. Technically, it would be a good idea to apply foe guardianship if you're going to do that, because otherwise there might be situations involving his school or medical care that could be problematic otherwise. Often people don't bother with this, and sometimes it works out just fine, but if he were to say end up in the hospital and you needed to be able to talk to his doctor and make medical decisions for him in a time sensitive situation, it could be a mess, especially if the parents weren't cooperative.

If the parents won't agree though, you could be exposing yourself to criminal liability by letting him live with you, and you don't want to put yourself in that situation. The offense you'd be charged with is "Harboring a Runaway", and it does apply to any child under 18. There's a provision in it that basically protects grandparents in your husband's situation, but it would not extend to first cousins. Yeah, it's fairly unlikely that it would actually reach the point of you getting convicted fir it under these circumstances, and I doubt the police would have any real interest in arresting you, but if the parents pushed hard enough (or you just got unlucky and got a cop who insists upon "the letter of te law"), you could actually go to jail for this. It might not seem like a particularly fair solution to this, but perhaps the parents would be more inclined to say okay if you offered to cover all his expenses? If you can afford to do so (or if he can get a part-time job to help out), yiu never know--they might jump at the opportunity to relieve themselves of their parental obligations a bit early..

This answer is intended only to give you general information on the subject you've asked about and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship. If you feel you may need legal representation, please contact me by phone at (409) 750-0757, or by email at elizabethfoleylaw(AT), and I'll be happy to provide you with a free consultation about your case (up to 30 minutes) and an explanation of my fee schedule, payment options, and the different levels of representation I offer to fit your specific legal needs and budget.

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