California Law: Rights of a 16-Year-Old

Whether you’re a parent of a teenager or a young person yourself, you might be wondering about the rights of a 16 year old or the legal age to move out in California. This issue comes down mostly to the age of majority and the age at which children are eligible to apply for emancipation from their parents. Generally speaking, you must be 18 or legally emancipated to move out of your parents’ house in California.

Age of Majority in California

The age of majority in California is 18. This means that, at age 18, you are legally considered to be an adult. There are other benchmark ages prior to that in California, such as when you become eligible to apply for emancipation from your parents or when you can begin to learn to drive. However, it’s not until 18 that you are able to make all decisions for yourself, assuming you were not previously emancipated.

Legal Emancipation in California

Generally speaking, minors must be 14 years of age or older to be considered for legal emancipation from their parents. Prior to this point, the state feels that children lack the legal capacity to make this sort of decision for themselves. This information is outlined in the California Emancipation of Minors Law. Div. 11, Part 6, Chap. 1, §7000.

The process of legal emancipation frees the parent from the responsibility of feeding, clothing, educating and otherwise caring for a child. Once emancipation is granted, the minor is tasked with caring for herself until she reaches the age of majority. The parents no longer have a right to control any part of their child’s life. Legal emancipation does not mean that minors are able to drive, drink, vote or any other privilege that is earned with age, if they are still younger than that age.

Beyond just legal emancipation, minors may seek the freedom to make medical decisions on their own. In California, as long as a child is 15 years of age, does not live with his parents and manages his own finances, he is eligible to make his own medical decisions.

Moving Out in California

Until a minor is legally emancipated, she is technically under her parents’ care and cannot be expected to feed, clothe or house herself. Until a teenager reaches a majority age of 18 in California, or until she is emancipated, it would not be legally acceptable for her to move out of her parents’ house and provide for herself. By law, her parents are still responsible for supporting her, seeing to her education and ensuring her well-being.

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About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.