In this next chapter in our runaway laws series, we are covering the states of the Northern Plains: Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

Can I Move Out if I'm 17? - Runaway Laws in the Northern Plains States

We continue our series on runaway laws in the 50 states so you can understand the consequences of running away. We often get asked, “can I move out if I am 17?” If you decide that you need to leave your living situation, we want you to understand the runaway laws in your state, such as the definition of a runaway or if you can file for emancipation.

In this next chapter in our series, we are covering the states of the Northern Plains: Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

*Our main source of information is the comprehensive report, Alone Without A Home: A State-By-State Review of Laws Affecting Unaccompanied Youth, created by The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

*DISCLAIMER: We are not legal experts. Laws can be interpreted differently from county to county and police jurisdiction to police jurisdiction. Everyone’s situation is unique, but we are here 24/7 to help you figure out a plan for your specific situation. For information, please call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY or visit us at 1800RUNAWAY.org.

Idaho Age of a minor: In Idaho, this is defined as any person under 18 years of age.

Runaway status: According to Idaho law, a runaway is defined as “an individual under 18 years of age that is reported to any law enforcement agency as a runaway.”

Is running away a status offense: Running away in Idaho is considered a status offense. The law in Idaho states, “A runaway youth may be taken into custody without a warrant by a police officer or by a private citizen until the youth can be delivered into the custody of a police officer. The police officer shall then transfer custody to the youth’s guardian or deliver the youth to a juvenile shelter care facility or community-based diversion program to await a hearing.”

Can a youth file for emancipation: There is no general statute that addresses the process of emancipation, but the state does recognize emancipation in other statutes. The first definition from the probate code states that an emancipated minor shall mean any male or female who has been married. The second definition from a statute addressing the treatment and care of the developmentally disabled states that an emancipated minor means an individual between 14 and 18 years of age who has been married or whose circumstances indicate that the parent-child relationship has been renounced.

North Dakota Age of a minor: This is defined as any person under 18 years of age.

Runaway status: While the North Dakota Century Code does not directly address proceedings concerning runaway youth, a runaway youth may be declared an unruly child. An unruly child is, among other things, a child who is (a) habitually disobedient of the reasonable and lawful commands of the child’s guardian, (b) ungovernable, (c) willfully in a situation dangerous or injurious to the health, safety, or morals of the child, or (d) has committed an offense applicable only to a child.

Is running away a status offense: Running away is not a status offense in North Dakota. In North Dakota, a runaway youth may be taken into custody without a warrant by a police officer. The police officer shall then either release the youth into the custody of the youth’s guardian or deliver the youth to a shelter care facility or to the Juvenile Court.

Can a youth file for emancipation: According to North Dakota law, there is no general statute that addresses the process of emancipation, but the state does recognize emancipation in other statutes. Minors emancipated by marriage are considered adults.

Can I Move Out if I am 17 - Runaway Laws in the Northern Plains

South Dakota Age of a minor: A minor in South Dakota is any individual under 18 years of age.

Runaway status: According to state law, there is no specific definition, but a runaway could be classified as a child in need of supervision. A child in need of supervision means, among other things, a child who has run away from home or is otherwise beyond the control of the child’s guardian.

Is running away a status offense: Running away is not a status offense in South Dakota. A runaway youth may be taken into custody without a warrant by a police officer. The police officer shall then notify the youth’s guardian and deliver the youth to an intake officer for assessment.

Can a youth file for emancipation:  In South Dakota, an emancipated minor is any person under 18 years of age who (a) has entered into a valid marriage, (b) is on active duty with any of the armed forces of the United States or, (c) has received a court-ordered declaration of emancipation. Any minor may petition for emancipation in the circuit court of the county in which he resides.

Montana  Age of a minor: This is defined as any person under 18 years of age.

Runaway status: According to Montana law, there is no specific definition, but could be considered a youth in need of intervention. A youth in need of intervention is, among other things, a youth adjudicated for running away from home. “Running away from home” means that a youth has been reported to have run away from home without the consent of a guardian.

Is running away a status offense: Running away in Montana is not a status offense. A runaway youth may be questioned and taken into custody by a peace officer resulting in a potential petition that the youth is a youth in need of intervention. The police officer shall then either release the youth into the custody of a responsible person who promises that the youth will appear for all court proceedings or deliver the youth to a temporary shelter facility.

Can a youth file for emancipation:  In Montana, any person 16 years of age or older may petition for limited emancipation. The petition must state, among other things, that (a) limited emancipation is in the minor’s best interests, (b) the minor is aware of the consequences of emancipation, (c) the minor has or will reasonably obtain money sufficient to pay for financial obligations, (d) and the minor wants to become emancipated.

Wyoming Age of a minor:

Runaway status: In Wyoming, there is no specific definition, but a runaway youth could be classified as a child in need of supervision. Under state law, a child in need of supervision is, among other things, a child is under 17 years of age and who has run away from home.

Is running away a status offense: Running away in Wyoming is a status offense. A runaway youth may be taken into custody without a warrant by a police officer. The police officer shall then notify the youth’s guardian and either release the youth into the custody of his/her guardian or place the youth in shelter care pursuant to a court order. The youth may be placed in shelter care without a court order.

Can a youth file for emancipation: Wyoming law states that any minor may become emancipated if the minor (a) is or was married, (b) in the military service of the United States, or (c) has received a declaration of emancipation. Any minor subject to personal jurisdiction of a district court may petition for a declaration of emancipation.

Related Articles: Are you living in a different state? Find your state and the related information below:

Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona

Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana

West Virginia, Virginia, North & South Carolina, Georgia and Florida

Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania

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