Hi all! I'm a long time lurker and first-time poster. First off, I'd like to say I love this place to death. Second, I checked the tags related to these topics, just to let you know; this way I can save both my time and yours. Disclaimer: English is not my first language, I apologize in advance for any possible mistakes.
This post contains questions about: transporting minors across state lines (felony x not felony; parental consent needed x no parental consent needed), minor transferring high schools without guardian's help, (possible) kinship care and the whole process, school enrollment in another state, legal rights over kicked out teenager, legal rights over teenager under kinship care, decisions re: said minor's health. This is a lot to put under the subject line, so I decided to be more detailed here.
I'm working on a story and have a couple of questions! The entry ended up huge, even though I tried my best to keep it short. I bolded the main bits of all my questions, this way it's easier for you to catch what I need to know. :D
Setting: September of 2001, United States of America. SoCal & Oklahoma, mostly.
My female character, whom I'll call A., has a boyfriend (from now on, T.) of two years, who lives a couple of states away - she's in SoCal, he's in OK. A. is 17, lives with her Mom, Dad and Brother. T. is 18 and lives with his family. A. founds out she's pregnant while her Dad and Brother are away, and for a couple of reasons I'd rather not go into, she gets kicked out by her Mom. For the sake of simplicity, let's just say she stays at her best friend's for a few days until she can meet her boyfriend and the two of them can work everything out. Long-ish story short: they decide to keep the baby, T. brings her back home with him, A.'s dad doesn't know about any of this. To the questions!
1) She's a minor, and as far as I know, there's a law about crossing state lines with minors - the thing is, the information diverges from this point on. I've read on a couple of sites that it's okay as long as the minor's parents consent - which is not (but maybe could be, if extremely necessary,) the case. Some other sites tell me that as long as the minor in question is 17 there's no need for consent/as long as they're not crossing with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity it's not a felony and consent is not needed. Which sites are right: first group or second group? What is the actual law? I only found a law that reinforces the second group, specifically the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity bit, and found nothing but vague "it is illegal" answers regarding the first group, with no references cited.
a) In case parental consent is, indeed, needed.I'd like to add that no one is going to report her as a runaway, as her mom is the only one slightly aware of all of this and wants nothing to do with her, and her father will be home only a couple of weeks after this takes place, and won't report her, either. I also planned A. and T.'s whole trip (thanks GoogleMaps and Hotels.com!) and checked the policies regarding anyone under 18 without their guardians, and it's all good. I chose hotels that don't require the company of parents for anyone under 18, so that won't be a problem.
Bearing in mind that T. and A. will go to OK by car, will they have any trouble? Her mom let her by her own luck - is this considered consent? - and her father is simply not aware of the situation. If consent is needed, do they have to get any document or something from A.'s mom? I would like to avoid this as much as possible, so if there's any way to skip this, I'd be the first one to agree on doing it. Would crossing the lines without the parental consent be a big deal? As in, is it impossible for her to move away without her guardians' word on it, legally speaking? I'm thinking no, because as much as the info on this subject is pretty all over the place, no consent needed sounds more plausible/reasonable, but as U.S. law and me = ERROR, I thought I'd ask. If it is an issue, is there any way I could work around it? I'd rather her parents (especially her dad) not being involved on this, so if there is any way this could happen, I'd be happy to know!
(search terms: mix and match of "transporting minor across state lines", "crossing borders", "minor across state lines", "parental consent" and its synonyms, multiple times.)
2) A.'s kicked out. What does she have to do about it, legally speaking? Does she have to contact Social Services, or could she rearrange her life on her own? I could make her go and talk to Social Services, if it's really needed, but I don't want her put into foster care (would her case fall into this? I'm thinking no, because she's older than 16 and, says my research, is aging out of the foster system soon), nor do I want her to deal with anything that would take too long to resolve itself, as A. and T. have only a couple of days to sort everything out and go to OK.
She's a year away of being an adult - does she still need a present guardian in her life? ie.: to enroll her in school, to sign contracts on her name, medical bills and the like. I'm really confused on this one. I've made my research and found various testimonials of teens that were kicked out, and it seems they lived on their own without a guardian until they turned 18 - but all of them had already finished school, which is not my character's case. Can anyone explain me all of this? Would she need a guardian, living in another state after being kicked out? Or could she make her own decisions and do everything a guardian would do for her by herself? I think she would need a guardian, but found nothing online.
a) If a guardian is, indeed, needed.
I wouldn't want her to be emancipated, not his parents to become her legal guardians. The best option I found was kinship care, which is more of a temporary thing. I've made my research but some things are still not quite clear to me. Would she have to be placed in foster care in order to be eligible for kinship care? The "awesome link on kinship care", linked below, tells me she wouldn't - it could all be a private arrangement. Is it right? Could she look for kinship care in another state (as in, Oklahoma)? I've found who is considered homeless (this link also talks about who is considered homeless and is more complete - warning: PDF file!), what the State of Oklahoma says on kinship care and the awesome link on kinship care (warning: PDF!). As stated in the first and second links, she's considered homeless: living with friends and is living in a doubled-up situation because of loss of home. Says the Oklahoma link that she would be first placed with people whom she has blood ties with. But there are no blood ties between A, and his parents - obviously, that'd be... disturbing, at the very least. His parents could fit in the "emotional tie" section, though, methinks, with a few adjustments in my story. Am I correct here? I'm a bit lost because she's originally from CA. Would the process be the same for an out-of-stater teen? That is, if she can look for it in another state, after all. If so, would those forms cited in the Oklahoma link be needed? I'm guessing yes (at least for the second question), but better be safe than sorry! I'd rather an easy, no-forms needed solution, as I'd like as little interaction between his parents and hers as possible, but I know this is probably impossible.
(search terms: mix and match of "family law", "kicked out at 17", "moving out", "social services + california" - which led me to this helpful link, "kinship placement", "kinship care", "who is considered homeless", "throwaway child", "kinship care in another state", "kinship arrangements".)
3) A.'s not finished with school. She's a senior, and the school year still hasn't begun - still, A.'s enrolled and is prepared to start school on the following weeks. If it matters, she's in a private school. As she's moving away, would it be possible for his parents to enroll her in a new school in OK? Could she herself do it? I've done my research (Maryland link on Enrollment, eHow on transferring HS and eHow on transferring credits to a new school) and, as far as I know, his parents almost can. I know some of those links aren't about California or Oklahoma, but based on what I found (warning: PDF file!), it's the same all over the US re: enrollment for homeless kids. Options are:
a) Kinship care and placement. His parents would have all the forms needed and it would all pretty easy to enroll her, as far as I know, or at least says the awesome link on kinship care posted above. This is, in my personal opinion, the easiest way out, and would work very well with my story.
b) They could enroll her if her parents gave consent, but I don't think this would work very well with the plot. It's not really an option, just letting everyone know I've done my research and, though this is plausible, it wouldn't really fit my story; this way I don't waste your time with this. :D If there isn't any other way the enrollment could happen, then I might use this, but it would seriously screw things up a bit.
c) Says the Maryland link that it could also depend on the school's policies, but I'm assuming no school would be okay with a non-parent/guardian enrolling a teen in HS. Am I correct on this? I'm not from the US, I'm Brazilian. I know it'd be plausible in a small-ish town in my country; don't think it would be in the US. Has anyone ever heard of any similar cases? I think with custody issues, kidnapping and the like, no school would risk its reputation allowing people to just enroll kids like there's no tomorrow, right?
(search terms: mix and match of "enrollment in high school", "admission in high school", "enrollment without parents", "kinship care", "kinship placement", "transferring high schools", "documents for admission", and synonyms.)
4) Still on transferring schools and enrollment: what would be A.'s steps on it? I've thought about this and have this in mind: she'd go to her current school, ask for all the documents she'd need to be enrolled in OK (and as we're on this topic, what would they be? I searched for documents + enroll + high school, but didn't find what I was looking for; I got lots of "check with your new school", but that's not posible in my MC's case, as she's moving before setting on a new school; so I'd like to know what are the common documents needed, in your experience), let them know about the transference and sign the withdrawal form. Then, in OK, they'd search for a new school. Are these steps right? Am I missing something? I'm leaning towards a private school, if it matters, as I'm not familiar with the US public school system (they vary depending on the state, right?), and, therefore, I'd rather not go there. Methinks it'd be expensive, but money is not really a problem. Does this seem plausible? As in, could a 17 year-old do this by herself? By "this" I mean going to the school, asking for the documents and transference arrangement and, mostly, signing the withdrawal form. Could she sign it on her own or would it be her mother's signature? Would she need parental consent? If so, isn't there any other way to do all of this?
(search terms: mix and match of "high school enrollment", "high school transference", "documents for enrollment", "high school admission", "admission's office". I didn't really search for any answers regarding the last questions, but only because I don't know if I could find anything this specific - I figured it'd be better to ask you guys straight away.)
5) Legal rights: would A.'s mom still have any over A. after kicking her out? I mean, she did kick out her own daughter... I'm thinking A.'s dad would still have them, not so sure about her mom. Are they still legally (and financially) responsible for her after kicking her out? I'm guessing yes., but asking, still. I don't plan on emancipating A, if it matters. Also, if 2.a happens (kinship placement and care), would her parents still hold legal rights over her? Or would those be on the kinship caregivers' hands (also known, in this case, as his parents' hands)?I know A.'d be the one to have the last word on anything health-related, as she's pregnant, so that's not what worries me. If she ended up incapable of making her own decisions, who would make them for her? Could his parents make them? Would her pregnancy make T. have any word on it? (i.e.: she ends up unconscious in an accident, they have to choose between her and the baby, could T. make any health-related decisions for her? I'm thinking no, because he's not her husband, but I'm asking anyways! haha) Would it be on her parents' hands? On the awesome link about kinship care, it is said the kinship caregivers could make medical decisions, and it sounds reasonable. Is it right?
(search terms: mix and match of "legal rights", "parental rights over kids", "kicked out teen", "kinship care + medical care" and synonyms. I'd appreciate any suggestions re: search terms - English is my second language and I don't know what else to try. I also figured out it'd be better to ask here re: who would make the decisions since it's a pretty specific case.)