It's a rare 16 or 17 year old who doesn't dream of leaving home and starting a life independent of mom and dad's rules. But under Florida law, it will, more than likely, remain a dream. The legal age to leave home in Florida is 18, unless, with parental permission, you can convince a court that you should be emancipated.
Moving From Minor to Adult in Florida
The legal age of majority in Florida is the same as in most other states – 18 years old. Florida law defines a minor as a child who has not yet reached her 18th birthday, and that is also the legal age to move out in Florida. So all you 16- and 17-year-olds dreaming of starting a new life away from your parents will have to wait.
What rights fall into your lap at age 18? The right to leave home, leave school, enter into a contract, choose your own doctor, vote, smoke, join the military, get a driver's license and get married without consent of your parents. All across the country, the age to legally drink alcohol is 21, so don't get your hopes up on that one.
Of course, all these rights are packaged with some weighty responsibilities. In most cases, your parents no longer have to support you. You also have to serve on juries and you can be sued in court.
Read More: Florida Laws About Moving Out of Your Parents' Home
Early Out: Emancipation
Can a 17-year-old move out without parents consent in Florida? The answer is a resounding no, unless the minor manages to convince a judge that she should be emancipated. If you are emancipated, you come into some of the rights of an adult early, like the right to marry and the right to leave home without the approval of parents. You still have to wait until you are 18 to vote and until you turn 21 to drink.
An emancipated minor essentially gains the legal capacity to act as an adult. That means he can run his own life and be independent of the control and custody of his parents. But there's a price: Your parents no longer have to support you after you are emancipated. In order to file for emancipation, a teen must be at least 16 years old and have parental consent. And that's not all – you and your parents must show:
- that you are financially independent and are able to support yourself and any children you have;
- that you will not depend on public benefits;
- why you need to be emancipated; and
- that emancipation is in your best interests.
Marriage Means Majority
If you are a teenager under the age of 18 and you marry, you get the same rights you would if the court granted emancipation. But there's a catch to this, too. You cannot marry under the age of 18 without the consent of one or both parents.
The legal age in Florida is 18, and this means that a teenager can't leave home without a parent's permission until then. But under certain circumstances, a teen as young as 16 can, with parents' permission, file an emancipation request with the court.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.