Michigan Runaways

Can a 16 year old leave home without permission? No. If the individual is under age 18, they are a “minor”. MCL 722.1. The age of majority in Michigan is 18. MCL 722.52. A child can leave home with permission, however, it is still the parents obligation to support their minor children unless the court modifies or terminates the obligation via a petition for emancipation, or the minor is emancipated by operation of law. MCL 722.3.

“Emancipation” means termination of the rights of the parents to the custody, control, services and earnings of a minor. Emancipation can occur by court order pursuant to a petition filed, or by operation of law if certain conditions are met. An emancipation occurs by operation of law when a minor is validly married; when he/she reaches age 18; during active duty with the armed forces; and to consent to certain care when in the custody of a law enforcement agency and when incarcerated.

If a child leaves home without permission, the child should be reported missing and the Department of Human Services should be contacted as Department agents can requisition the child back into the jurisdiction and help set in motion charges against anyone who aids the child knowing they are a runaway. It is against the law for any person to knowingly and willfully aid or abet a child under the age of 17 years to violate an order of a juvenile court or knowingly and willfully conceal or harbor juvenile runaways who have taken flight from the custody of the court, their parents or legal guardian. Violation is a misdemeanor with fine of not more than $500.00 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both. MCL 722.151 and MCL 722.152.

A parent can give permission to a 16-year-old child to leave home and live somewhere else, however, they are still obligated to support the child.

An ancillary bit of information is that the parent has the right to contact the child’s employer and direct the employer to pay the parent directly. This is because until the child is age 18, the parents of an unemancipated minor are entitled to the custody, control, services and earnings of the minor. This could be used to coerce the child back home, but it may also just coerce the child to quit the job and find another.

ADDITIONAL ARTICLE related to this topic


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