Queen Creek, AZ asked in Juvenile Law and Social Security for Arizona

Q: If I’m 17 and in Arizona and I run away to Chicago can my parents do anything about it?

Which state’s laws have the most jurisdiction in this situation? I know that in Illinois if a 17 year old voluntarily runs away the police will not force them home because It was voluntary, does that apply to this Scenario?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Kenneth Prigmore
Kenneth Prigmore

A: I am not an Arizona attorney. However, your question raises issues that you will need to consider for your personal safety and survival. It will take you a couple minutes to read, but it may save your life.

1- Be absolutely sure you need to leave home now. If your parents are causing you harm, you don't have to go to Chicago to escape that. Call the local police and ask who to call about the issues you are experiencing. If your parents are simply annoying or bossy, there is a lot you can do to prepare to go out on your own before you turn 18. If you haven't graduated from high school, you want to make this a priority, whether you are living with your parents or somewhere else. Too many doors close when you choose not to graduate.

2- Chicago is a big city with many problems. Leaving your current situation to go there may be trading old problems for new.

3- You need to find a solid source of income like an actual job you have been hired to do. If you don't have this, you may be planning on staying with a friend. Keep in mind that situations like this are extremely unstable and could change on you at any time. Having a solid source of income will give you the ability, as needed, to pay rent and living costs. If you end up on your own in Chicago, with no source of income, you will either be homeless or end up doing something awful to survive. This is how a large portion of young women are pulled into prostitution. No matter what you have seen in movies, life on your own is really hard, especially when you are relying on others.

4- Make solid plans for everything you will need to survive safely. If you choose the lowest rent you can find in Chicago, it will probably not be safe. After you make a plan, create a solid plan B. Our best plans usually get thrown off track.

5- Seriously consider enrolling in some sort of schooling. It could be a trade school, a University, a community college, etc. This will give you solid life skills needed to get better jobs than minimum wage. ALSO, most education options can be paid for with a grant or school loan, which often covers living expenses like rent! The grants are awesome because they don't have to be repaid as long as you stay in school.

6- Life includes so many real experiences. Drugs are designed to stop experiencing some part of life, and replace it with an artificial experience. You can totally enjoy life without ever getting high. If you stay away from drugs, you will stay in control and have almost unlimited options.

7- Talk with someone with many years of life experience about your plans. There are many good people willing to help guide you.

You have so much potential for your life. Don't let the pressures of the moment put your life at risk. Take as long as you can to decide when to go and please make solid plans that others with more experience agree can work.

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