Asked in Child Custody and Family Law for North Carolina

Q: Im 17 years old will be 18 in december and my dad has custody of me, Can i run away?

My father is abusive towards me and i want to live with my mother i have reported this to DSS multiple times and wont take it to 215 or do anything about it. the law is "it is not illegal for a 17 year old to run away without parental permission. Since it isnt against the law there is no juridiction for the police to return the teen home just because they ran away. they can only be returned if they are in danger" some lawyers say this is true others say i can be force to go back. is this true? if im forced what happens if i refuse to the fullest?

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2 Lawyer Answers

Amanda Bowden Houser

Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: Can you runaway? Sure, but if you do and your father calls law enforcement they will likely find you and force you back (especially if you are still in school). If you refuse, it likely won't be fun for you - I hear tasers don't feel good at all. So basically by running away you'd just be selfishly wasting everyone's time. So your best bet is to just keep your mouth shut, keep your head down and deal with it until you turn 18 - then leave. That's a mere 7 months - its a hockey season besides if there were anything to your allegations of 'abuse' DSS would have removed you.

Angela L. Haas

Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: You can leave and go to your mother's. However, the police may suggest that you return, and will certainly encourage your mother to encourage you to do the same (since he has custody); however, they can't make you. Your mother could file a Motion to Modify Custody, and at least get it filed with the court, so that if your father tries to hold her in contempt for violating any court order, she'll have already filed to modify the order. You do not have to fear that a law enforcement officer will use a taser on you, so long as you are not a threat to anyone within your reach at the time. Do what you need to to stay safe, but don't use this as an excuse to go to mom's and do whatever you want. Show that you responsible and that the only reason you left was because you did not feel safe (ie., stay in school, etc.).

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