“Hi, I’m a 17-year-old. I live with my mom in Florida who has full custody of me and it hasn’t been pretty living there. My girlfriend who is also 17 and is 23 weeks pregnant recently moved to Michigan and my mom is keeping me in Florida until I am 18. I have been doing a lot of research on this. I want to take a flight to Michigan without my mom knowing and live with my girlfriend’s family. I will have a job, a place and a school to attend. I am planning on calling my mom when I land in Michigan to tell her where I am and I am going to call her everyday to talk to her and to let her know that everything is okay. Will I or my girlfriend’s family get in trouble with the law? Will I be forced back to Florida?”
Generally speaking, your girlfriend’s family should not get into trouble with the law if they cooperate should the police or authorities ever become involved. Furthermore, you should not get into trouble with the law if you do the same. Assuming that you are leaving, the best thing for you to do when you get to Michigan is for you to keep in touch with your family and do as you indicated by staying in school, getting a job, and being otherwise responsible and establishing ties to the community. You will want to do this to lay a foundation for your defense should it ever be necessary in the future. Defending yourself could be necessary in the situation where your parents petition the court for an order for your return to Florida. If that happens, you will be notified and will have an opportunity to request a court appointed attorney, and to assert why it is not in your best interests to return to Florida. You will discuss your family history and present circumstances with your attorney. You will likely object to the requisition, put on evidence of the fact that you are going to be a father, and why things are “not pretty” in Florida, counter-allege abuse or neglect if applicable, and consider filing a petition for emancipation at that point. If it is truly in your best interests to be in Michigan and you are being responsible and doing the right thing, the situation should shape up in your favor.
This article was originally posted on July 21, 2009. It has been revised and republished on July 1, 2014.