In this next chapter in our series on U.S. state runaway laws, we are covering the Midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota and Michigan.

Runaway Laws in the Midwest

We often get asked, should I move out at 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 Midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri and Minnesota.

*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.

Illinois Runaway Laws - Should I Move Out at 17

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

Runaway status: In Illinois, a runaway youth is defined as “a person under 18 years of age who is absent from his/her legal residence without the consent of his/her parent or legal guardian or who is without a place of shelter where supervision or care are available.”

Is running away a status offense: Running away in Illinois is not considered a status offense. The law in Illinois states, “A runaway youth may be taken into custody without a warrant by a police officer. The police officer shall then make reasonable efforts to contact the youth’s guardian and, with the youth’s consent, release the youth into the custody of the youth’s guardian. If, however, the officer is unable after reasonable efforts to contact the guardian, the guardian lives unreasonably far away, or the minor refuses to be taken to his/her home or other appropriate resident, the officer shall transport the youth to an agency providing crisis intervention services, including, when appropriate, mental health services for voluntary or involuntary admission.”

Can a youth file for emancipation: Illinois is very thorough on this subject. According to Illinois law, “The Emancipation of Minors Act is intended (a) to provide a means by which a homeless minor who is seeking assistance may have the authority to consent, independent of his/her parents or guardian, to receive shelter, housing, and services provided by a licensed agency that has the ability and willingness to serve the homeless minor and (b) to do so without requiring the delay or difficulty of first holding a hearing. Any person 16 years of age or older may petition the circuit court in the county where the minor resides, is found, owns property, or in which a court action affecting the interests of the minor is pending for emancipation. The petition must state, among other things, the reason that the minor wishes to become emancipated and show that the minor has become at least partially independent from the guardian. If the minor seeks emancipation as a homeless minor, the petition shall also set forth the name of the youth transitional housing program that is willing and able to provide services and shelter or housing to the minor, the address of the program, and the name and phone number of the contact person at the program.”

Runaway Laws in Indiana - Should I Move Out at 17

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

Runaway status: Indiana law does not directly address runaway status, but could be classified as a delinquent child. “A child commits a delinquent act if the child leaves home without reasonable cause and without permission of the child’s guardian.”

Is running away a status offense: Running away is not a status offense in Indiana. In Indiana, a runaway youth may be taken into custody by a police officer, or probation officer or caseworker when a police officer is not available and the youth is in immediate danger and an order from the court cannot be readily obtained.

Can a youth file for emancipation: Indiana has a unique set of laws on emancipation, including no minimum age for emancipation and no requirement for parental consent. “Youth must state that they wish to be independent and show that they can support themselves. They must also show that they have acceptable living arrangements and understand the consequences of emancipation. This statute protects a young person’s right to become legally independent, but also requires the court to ensure the youth understands what emancipation means and has a safe place to live. Emancipated youth in Indiana have the right to enter contracts, marry, own property, and consent to medical care.”

Runaway Laws in Iowa - Should I Move Out at 17

Iowa: Age of a minor: A minor in South Dakota is considered a juvenile and is classified as any individual under 18 years of age.

Runaway status: Iowa has a classification for runaway youth called “chronic runaway.” This is defined as “a child who is reported to law enforcement more than once in any 30-day period or three or more times in any year.”

Is running away a status offense: Running away is not a status offense in Iowa. Runaway youth may be taken into custody without a warrant by a peace officer. The peace officer may take the youth into custody with the purpose of determining whether the youth should be reunited with the youth’s guardian, placed in shelter care, or placed in a runaway placement center where available.

Can a youth file for emancipation:  Iowa addresses youth emancipation in detail. “A minor may file a petition for emancipation with the juvenile court in the county in which the minor resides if (a) the minor is 16 years of age or older, (b) the minor is a resident of the state, and (c) the minor is not in the care, custody, or control of the state. The petition will include specific facts to show that the minor has demonstrated (a) financial self-sufficiency, including proof of employment or other means of support, which does not include assistance or subsidies, (b) an ability to manage personal affairs, and (c) ability and commitment to obtain and maintain education, vocational training, or employment.”

Wisconsin Runaway Laws - Should I Move Out at 17

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

Runaway status: According to Wisconsin law, there is no specific definition, but could be classified as a juvenile in need of protection or services. A juvenile in need of protection or services is, among other things, a juvenile who is habitually truant from home.

Is running away a status offense: Running away in Wisconsin is not a status offense. In Wisconsin, 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 after counseling or warning the youth as appropriate, or deliver the youth to a runaway home. If the youth is delivered to a runaway home, the parents shall be notified immediately and a detention hearing shall be held.

Can a youth file for emancipation:  In Wisconsin, there is no general statute that addresses the process of emancipation, but the district does appear to recognize emancipation in other statutes. An emancipated minor means “a minor who is or has been married; a minor who has previously given birth; or a minor who has been freed from the care, custody and control of her parents, with little likelihood of returning to the care, custody and control prior to marriage or prior to reaching the age of majority.”

Runaway Laws in Michigan - Should I Move Out at 17

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Michigan Age of a minor: In Michigan, this is defined as any person who is 18 years of age or younger.

Runaway status: There is no specific definition of runaway youth in Michigan. There is a classification of “homeless child,” which is defined as any school-age child who is homeless.

Is running away a status offense: Running away in Michigan is not a status offense. Michigan law is specific on how they manage runaway youth. ”A youth whose surroundings are such as to endanger his/her health, morals, or welfare or who is found violating any law or ordinance may be taken into custody without a warrant by a police officer. The youth shall not be held in any detention facility unless the youth is completely isolated from other detainees. The youth’s parent, guardian, or custodian must be immediately notified.”

Can a youth file for emancipation: In Michigan, emancipation occurs by operation of law when a minor (a) is married, (b) reaches 18 years of age, or (c) is on active duty with the armed forces of the United States. A minor may file a petition for emancipation in the family division of the circuit court in the county where the minor resides. The petition must include a declaration by the minor that he/she has demonstrated the ability to manage his/her financial, personal, and social affairs, as well as an affidavit by any adult (e.g. nurse, doctor, school teacher) who has personal knowledge of the minor’s circumstances and believe that under those circumstances, emancipation would be in the best interest of the minor.

Missouri Runaway Laws - Should I Move Out at 17

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Missouri  Age of a minor: According to Missouri law, a minor is any person under 18 years of age or any person in the custody of the division of family services who is under 21 years of age.

Runaway status: Missouri does not have a specific classification for runaway youth, but youth can be classified as a child in need of care and treatment. A child in need of care and treatment is, among other things, a child who is habitually absent from the child’s home without sufficient cause, permission, or justification.

Is running away a status offense: Running away is not a status offense in Missouri. According to Missouri law, a youth whose behavior, environment, or associations are injurious to his welfare or who is without proper care, custody or support may be taken into custody by a police officer. The parent or guardian of the child taken into custody shall be notified as soon as possible.

Can a youth file for emancipation: In Missouri, there is no general statute that addresses the process of emancipation, but the state does recognize emancipation in other statutes. A dependent child means “any person under 21 years of age who is not otherwise emancipated, self-supporting, married, or a member of the armed forces of the United States.

Minnesota Runaway Laws - Should I Move Out at 17

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Minnesota  Age of a minor: Minnesota law states that a minor is any person under the age of 18.

Runaway status: Minnesota defines a runaway as an unmarried child under 18 years of age who is absent from the home of a parent or other legal placement without the consent of a guardian.

Is running away a status offense: Running away is not a status offense in Minnesota. If a runaway is found, they may be taken into custody without a warrant by a peace officer. The peace officer shall then notify the youth’s guardian that the youth has been taken into custody.

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. A guardianship of a minor terminates upon the minor’s death, adoption, emancipation, attainment of majority, or as ordered by the court.

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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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  • Lexie

    My best friend has a horrible restrictive family and right now she’s grounded (she’s almost always grounded for something) so I was wondering if she’s legally able to move away at 17 without consent? Her parents are really crazy and would never let her do it but she turns 18 in less than 5 months and almost has a full time job so she can financially support herself. We live in Minnesota btw. I’m just really worried about her.

  • Hi, Lexie. Thank you for reaching out to us with your question. In order to best help your friend, we will need to gain more information from her on her exact circumstances. We ask you to encourage her to contact us on our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY, or she can also send us an email or use our live chat function on our website, 1800RUNAWAY.org. We hope to hear from her soon, and thank you again for your assistance.