Can You Move Out At 16?

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

The short answer is, yes you can move out at 16 – but it requires certain criteria to be met. Before the age of 18, the parents or guardian have sole responsibility for the financial and overall well being of the person – however, there are times when a person under the age of 18 requests emancipation. This could be because of marriage, bearing a child or fleeing a family home due to abuse or poor relationship.

Moving out of the family home is never easy at maturity, so moving out at 16 is even more stressful. You should consider carefully all of the reasons why you’re looking to move out and whether or not you can cope. Whatever the rationale, being a minor and trying to move out is not simple.

The First Step

You should first ask permission from your parents or guardian to move out. It’s good to draft a list of why you’re hoping to move and where you would go from there.

You’d need to provide where you’re going, who you’d be living with and how you’d financially cope – including details of employment or Government support. Should your parents or guardian consent to this request, you might be able to leave. However, if they deny this request – there are still other things you could try.

Step Two

If you haven’t yet done so, seek employment advice and try to gain financial support. You’ll need to support yourself financially if you’re planning to be independent. If you’ve left school, this is even more significant. Education is the cornerstone of your future, so trading school for full time employment is an enormous commitment and decision to make.

This is one of the biggest factors in whether the court will grant emancipation – so it’s crucial to get this sorted. More to the point, it will highlight to everybody how serious you are about moving out and being your own adult.

Step Three

If you’ve been in a long term relationship, you should consider marriage or legal partnership. Although it’s never a good idea to rush into things, if you have thought about it carefully and think this is the life you’re hoping for and heading toward – it can really help your chances of getting emancipation granted.

This is because in the eyes of society, you are now able to look after another person (your own child) and therefore logically can look after yourself.

Step Four

If you do have a child already, you must provide some evidence of where the child will be residing with you. It must be safe, warm and have all the necessary amenities that you’d expect for any person but especially a child.

Effectively, you need to highlight your responsibility for looking after another person. If you can show your responsibleness, you should be able to prove you are worthy of independence.

Step Five

If these steps haven’t applied to you and you’re determined to be solely responsible and independent, and you definitely want to leave home – consider joining the military.

Those who join the military are deemed as self-sufficient and independent. If you’re responsible enough to use and maintain weaponry, you’re responsible enough to look after yourself.

Step Six

Speak with a legal advisor. This might be a tricky one depending on who you see, but it’s worth looking into.

A legal advisor can take you through the stages of emancipation, your chances of it being granted and whether or not it is a good idea for you.


The age of majority (no longer being a minor) is generally 18 in most States – but not all. In Nebraska and Alabama, the age is 19 whereas in Mississippi it’s 21. If somebody reaches the age of majority whilst they’re still enrolled in high school and at the parental home, the parents are still obligated to continue supporting them.


It’s been reported that around 30% of teenagers runaway from home and normally state the reasons to be:

  • Family breakdown
  • They want more freedom
  • Neglect or abuse
  • Alcohol and drug abuse (by either party in the home)
  • Struggling with identity (sexual, gender, racial etc.)

A runaway is someone who has left home without their parental or guardian’s permission for at least 24 hours if they’re 14 or younger, or 48 hours if they’re 15 or older.

How Legal Is It To Runaway?

In most States, there’s no law to say you’re not allowed to run away but in some, there are strict rules and laws around runaways.

Some States may hold the minor in custody to ensure their safety until they can return home. In Michigan though, the minor has no legal power to force anyone under the age of majority to return home and therefore law enforcement cannot get involved – unless the minor has committed a criminal act whilst being “independent” including drug or alcohol use or breaking and entering.
In Texas, running away is an offense. They may be held in detention or forcibly sent back home.
A minor may be considered as homeless if they run away, have nowhere else to go, live in States like Michigan where you cannot be forced back or they cannot be put into a youth center.

Other Reasons To Leave

Often, teens leave for abusive reasons and cannot be sent home. This is known as reasonable cause in States like Virginia, so the teen will be sent to another reasonable home like a foster home. In Maine, the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) may take control and harbor the minor or try and get a home quickly for the minor.

Summing Up

Moving out of your home at 16 can be necessary, but if it isn’t – you should think carefully about your future and your next steps.