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Can a Seventeen-Year-Old Leave Home?   Tags: emancipation, family law, juveniles  

This legal research guide provides information about Texas law regarding juveniles and the age of majority.
Last Updated: Jul 8, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Research from Home

If you have a TexLaw ID, you can check out an OverDrive eBook title or access our remote databases. Don't have a TexLaw ID? Texas residents can register for a TexLaw ID from home! Learn more about how to register from home.

Below are some eBook titles that may help you with your research on children and the law.

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Representing the child client - Mark I. Soler
Call Number: KF 9779 R46 1987
Publication Date: 2014
Soler's resource provides counsel who represent youth with a detailed overview of children's rights and the statutory and case law relating to legal matters involving children. Topics range from school disciplinary matters to child witnesses and even health-care for low-income children.

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Texas family law practice and procedure - Matthew Bender
Call Number: KFT 505 F35 1997
Publication Date: 2014
Texas Family Law for the practitioner, covering Conservatorship and Guardianship, premarital agreements, divorce, custody issues, spousal support, grounds, and valuing community assets. Includes sample petitions and motions, including initial attorney-client documents, as well as references to the most current State Bar CLE materials, legal periodicals, and ALR Annotations.


Resources at the State Law Library

Below are some of the library resources that can provide further guidance on this topic. The Texas State Law Library has many other resources in addition to the highlights we present below. Please call us at (512) 463-1722 if you have any questions about these materials.

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All about Texas law and kids - Bobbi Sheahan, Michelle May O'Neil, Claudia Cano and Sharon Ramage
Call Number: REF DESK KFT 479 M5 A45 2009
ISBN: 9781576253533
Publication Date: 2009
Discusses Texas law and legal issues related to children and minors. Chapter 18, "Can I Be a grownup now?", discusses issues related to the emancipation of minors.

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Juvenile practice is not child's play: a handbook for attorneys who represent juveniles in Texas [PDF] - Texas Appleseed
Call Number: KF 9779 J8 2005
Publication Date: October 2005
This handbook is a summary of some of the more important legal issues of juvenile law for the new practitioner. It also offers some additional ideas and strategies for the juvenile defense attorney. The stated goal of this publication is to help improve representation of juveniles across the state.

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Navigating the juvenile justice system: a handbook for juveniles and their families, 2nd ed [PDF] - Texas Appleseed
Call Number: KFT 9779 N3 2004
Publication Date: January 2004
This handbook provides information for children and their families about the juvenile justice system.

About This Guide

Can a seventeen-year-old leave home? This is a common reference question at the library. While we cannot give you a definitive answer, here is some information that may help you research this topic.

Texas Law

Below you will find references to areas of the Texas Statutes and Texas Attorney General opinions that govern the rights of juveniles and issues related to the age of majority in Texas. If you find these statutes difficult to understand, you may want to view the "plain English" resources on this page or speak to an attorney.

  • Attorney General Opinion JC-229 (2000) [PDF]
    This opinion responds to the following request: "Whether law enforcement officers are authorized to take a seventeen-year-old into custody simply because he or she has been reported as a missing child under chapter 63 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and related questions. (RQ-0169-JC)"
  • Attorney General Opinion GA-125 (2003) [PDF]
    This opinion responds to the following request: "Whether a minor may be classified as a 'missing child' under article 63.001, Code of Criminal Procedure, if the minor’s legal custodian knows the minor’s whereabouts. (RQ-0057-GA)"
  • Civil Practice and Remedies Code ch. 129
    This chapter defines the legal age of majority in Texas.
  • Family Code ch. 31
    This statute discusses the removal of the disabilities of minority, which is commonly referred to as becoming an emancipated minor.
  • Family Code sec. 51.02(2)
    This section of the code contains a definition of a "child" in relation to the Juvenile Justice Code.
  • Family Code sec. 101.003
    This section of the code contains a definition of a "child or minor" and an "adult", in relation to the parent-child relationship and suits affecting the parent-child relationship.

Explained in "Plain English"

Because Texas and federal law may not be easy to understand, below you'll find a collection of resources that help to explain the law in "plain English."

  • Juvenile Delinquency
    This is a list of juvenile delinquency legal resources from
  • Youth Rights in Domestic Violence: Basic Legal Information Concerning Texas Minors
    This document is from the Texas Advocacy Project. Pages 23-32 of this paper contains an article called "Unaccompanied Youth", which discusses the rights of 17-year-olds.It also discusses other useful information for minors. These topics include basic legal terminology, rights of youth in child abuse reporting and investigation, protective orders for minors, youth in suits affecting the parent-child relationship, and the rights of pregnant and parenting teens.

Who Can I Contact?

  • Texas Advocacy Project
    The Texas Advocacy Project provides free legal services statewide to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Family Law Hotline 800-777-FAIR (Statewide), 512-476-1866 (In Austin)
  • Texas Youth & Runaway Hotline
    The Texas Youth & Runaway Hotline (1-800-989-6884) is available 24 hours a day and provides free, confidential prevention services to youths, parents, siblings, and other family members. They may be able to provide information on whether a 17-year-old may leave home, and they encourage both parents and youth to contact them with questions. Counselors also assist youth advocates such as police, caseworkers, counselors, and school officials by locating state and local resources and providing free information and outreach materials to those working with youth and families.

Legal Research Guides from the Texas State Law Library

The Texas State Law Library reference librarians have compiled legal research guides for specific areas of the law. These guides contain resources that can help you research a legal issue. The American Association of Law Libraries has a guide for Non-Lawyers on How to Research a Legal Problem. If you have any questions, please contact us at (512) 463-1722 or at


The information provided on this page has been prepared for general information purposes only and should not be construed as, nor substituted for, legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you contact an attorney for advice specific to your fact situation. Your local bar association or the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service (1-800-252-9690) can assist you with locating an attorney.

Some of the electronic resources we refer to in this guide may be in PDF format. Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view PDFs.

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