Is it Legal for a 17-Year-Old to Move Out?

By Susan Steele

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Sometimes when teenagers reach a certain age, they thirst for freedom. They want to live their own lives and make their own rules. Sometimes special circumstances may lead a teen to strike out on his own. Whether a 17-year-old can legally live on her own depends on the state in which the teenager lives and her personal situation.

General Laws

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In most states in the United States, it is illegal for any teen under the age of 18 to move out from their parents' home and live independently.


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Texas and Missouri law allows teenagers to move out at age 17, but in Missouri, parents are still responsible until the teen reaches the age of 18.

Parents Responsibility

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If a teen moves out prior to her 18th birthday (or 17th birthday in Texas) and the parents do not file a runaway report, the parents are responsible for and can be held liable for any legal troubles, medical problems or unpaid bills associated with the teenager until she has reached her 18th birthday.


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In special circumstances, a teen under age 18 may become emancipated from parent responsibility. These situations include getting married, joining the military or being declared financially stable by a judge.


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In most cases, being a teenage parent does not warrant automatic right to emancipation due to the additional responsibility of proving sufficient care and that the needs of the baby will be met.