Can I move out without parental consent if I am 17, graduated and pregnant?

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Can I move out without parental consent if I am 17, graduated and pregnant?

I’m 17, recently graduated from high school, and almost 7 months pregnant. My parents want me to give the baby up for adoption, but both the father and I want to keep it. They moved me away from him to try to get me to do an adoption. Now that I am graduated can I move back to live with my sister without their consent?

Asked on December 29, 2011 under Family Law, Utah

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Here is the law in Utah:  Parents are legally obligated to provide the basic needs for their children until they are eighteen. If a person under eighteen marries or joins the U.S. Armed Forces, parents are no longer responsible for supporting them or for making decisions for them. Utah has an emancipation law (Utah Code section 78-A-6-801 et seq), which allows a minor 16 years or older to ask the juvenile court to declare them emancipated. If successful, this gives a minor under eighteen the rights and responsibilities of an adult. Emancipation forms are available on the court's website (http://www.utcourts.gov/courts/juv/#Emancipation).

It is not an easy endeavor.  You are still a minor.  They can still forbid you from moving out of their house and in with your sister until you are eighteen.  You need to take some step toward emancipation, and maybe your sister can help.  You have a whole lot going on here and support is what you need most. 

While there has been some controversy surrounding adoption in Utah, you still have to give up your parental rights to place your baby for adoption. So while your parents may think it's the best choice, it would be difficult for them to try to force you to do so if you don't want to assuming age is the only factor they're using. 

How Do I Become an Emancipated Minor in Utah?

Being close to legal age, you can move out when you hit your 18th birthday. If you choose to submit an emancipation request, the state of Utah requires you show you can handle financial matters and live alone. If you plan to keep your child, this would mean paying the bills to live independently and pay for or otherwise arrange appropriate child care. At 17, you have met the age requirement (16 in Utah). 

Ideally, you should preserve as many family relationships as you can. Being emancipated does not mean you have to cut off the relationship with your parents, and it's definitely advisable to check with your sister to make sure she's okay with you living with her. If you need help with the emancipation process, there are law firms that will assess your case and give you more personalized direction on what to do.

Once you submit a petition for legal emancipation, the court will review it and see if the requirements are met. It could take 30 days to get a hearing if the petition is accepted, and you may be appointed a guardian ad litem to look out for your interests as a minor child. 

Keep in mind, there are many practical ramifications for minors who get emancipated. It can change your family dynamic. More importantly, especially with an infant, it's not a free pass, but rather a lot more adult responsibilities.


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