Legal Rights of a 17-Year-Old in Texas

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Seventeen-year-olds are generally anxious for their next birthday to arrive so that they can cease being legal minors and obtain the rights of adults at least 18 years old. If you are a 17-year-old living in Texas or if you're a parent wanting to lay down the law, you might be curious to know the Texas laws regarding the legal rights of 17-year-olds.

17-Year-Olds Considered Minors

Most 17-year-olds residing in Texas are legally considered minors. While this entails many restrictions, being a minor also affords you protections. According to the Texas Family Code, Section 261.001, the legal rights applicable to children include having your parents provide you with financial support, food and shelter and being protected from child abuse, sexual abuse or neglect.

(CE: See Reference 1)

Texas Emancipation Law

The Texas Emancipation Law, under Section 31.001, establishes that 17-year-olds can petition to have their minority status removed. To acquire emancipation and thus obtain the legal rights of an adult, you must be able to show proof that you are 17 years old, that you're a resident of Texas and that you're capable of supporting yourself and managing your own financial affairs. You will have to fill out forms with your name, age and place of residence, the names and place of residence of your parents, the reasons why emancipation is in your best interests and a signature from at least one of your parents.

(CE: See Reference 2)

Emancipation Rights

Seventeen-year-olds in Texas who have successfully filed a petition to have their disabilities of minority removed are granted the same legal rights as adults. Once emancipated, you are permitted to leave your parents' home and live where you want, and the police cannot make you return to your parents' home. Given the legal capacity of an adult, you will also be allowed to enter and sign contracts and make decisions about you education without parental consent.