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Roger
Roger, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 26892
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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Dear Sir: I used your services back in November 2012 and now

Resolved Question:

Dear Sir:
I used your services back in November 2012 and now have other issues regarding the same individual. That thread, if necessary, is located at:
http://www.justanswer.com/family-law/7b28n-17-year-old-stepson-wants-live-22-year-old-brother.html
My 17 year old stepson will turn 18 on November 8th, 3 days from now. His plan is to at that time withdraw from school {he is in the 11th grade} and leave home. His perspective is that we are “kicking him out”. We did give him a choice. Remain in school OR drop out and live elsewhere. Our hopes were that this would deter him but he said he would rather live in the local park than go to school. In the State of Alabama a person can withdraw from school without parental permission and the required exit interview at the age of 18. The age of majority in Alabama is 19. His statement is that once he quits school, he is then emancipated and we have no control over him any longer. One month ago, he came home drunk and we called the police who spoke rather candidly to him but obviously did little good. Two weeks ago, he broke into the local community center and is now charged with Criminal trespass and criminal mischief, 3rd degree. He has a court date on 11/14/13. The juvenile intake officer mentioned they would have him {will be us I am sure} pay restitution and then he would be required to perform community service. His response was that if they required him to perform community service he would request to be jailed. Just this week, he stole a pair of boots from a student’s locker at school and we returned those to the teacher who has given us a statement to that effect. I have also have his brother and his pregnant wife as well as their 2 infant children living at my house due to his inability, or desire, to find employment {he just started work today!}. He gets in the infants face and screams at her when she cries. I have my wife’s 47 year old brother living with us {past 10+ years} who is 47 and has Down’s syndrome. We have photos of where Justin has whipped him with a belt until he was literally black and blue. His brother has witnessed him shoplifting at Wal-Mart. This is a snippet of our history in the past 12 months with Justin.

My question is this:

Question: Once he leaves and I refuse him entry into the house, what are the legal ramifications? We fear for our safety as well as those he has already hurt.
Once he withdraws from school and leaves our house, I have no intentions of letting him back into the house. He will be 18. He will not be legally emancipated in my mind BUT he believes he will be. My brother-in-law who is an attorney has been advising Justin based on Justin’s version of the facts with which I have a problem. He has even offered Justin a place to live as well as an allowance for feeding his pets daily. I have a real problem with this.

Thanks for your time once again.

Jeff Farrar
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Roger replied 11 months ago.

Roger :

Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a litigation attorney. Thanks for your question.

Roger :

You are correct that the age of majority is 19, BUT a parent's liability for the actions of a child is more restrictive under Alabama law.

Roger :

Alabama Code § 6-5-380(a) provides that a person “having custody and control of an individual under 18 years of age” can be held liable in an amount not to exceed $1,000. This limitation does not affect a situation where the parent has ratified the minor’s action or is considered negligent for failing to control the child’s actions that resulted in danger or damage to others. In such cases, liability may extend to the actual amount of the claim for recovery.

Roger :

Thus, any legal liability to a parent would be limited to $1000, and it expires once the child is 18. Thus, you should be safe in that regard.

Customer:

In regards XXXXX XXXXX letting him back into the household after he chooses to leave?

Roger :

In that regard, Alabama law says that a person who is 18 years old and is either married or widowed is emancipated by operation of law without the need for any formal action before a court or other authority.

Roger :

But, a person under the age of 19 years but over the age of 18 years may be emancipated, or “relieved of the disability of nonage,” by order of a juvenile court when such relief is in the best interest of the minor.

Roger :

Thus, you are legally required to care for the child until age 19 UNLESS he is emancipated. Thus, you would likely have to allow him back in if he came back and asked to return - - unless he is emancipated.

Roger :

Here's the statute that says you must care for your minor child:

Roger :

ALA CODE § 13A-3-24 : Alabama Code - Section 13A-3-24: USE OF FORCE BY PERSONS WITH PARENTAL, CUSTODIAL OR SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES

Roger :

The use of force upon another person is justified under any of the following circumstances:(1) A parent, guardian or other person responsible for the care and supervision of a minor or an incompetent person, and a teacher or other person responsible for the care and supervision of a minor for a special purpose, may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor or incompetent person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor or incompetent person.(2) A warden or other authorized official of a jail, prison or correctional institution may, in order to maintain order and discipline, use whatever physical force is authorized by law.(3) A person responsible for the maintenance of order in a common or contract carrier of passengers, or a person acting under his direction, may use reasonable physical force when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to maintain order, but he may use deadly physical force only when he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent death or serious physical injury.(4) A person acting under a reasonable belief that another person is about to commit suicide or to inflict serious physical injury upon himself may use reasonable physical force upon that person to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to thwart the result.(5) A duly licensed physician, or a person acting under his direction, may use reasonable physical force for the purpose of administering a reasonable and recognized form of treatment which he reasonably believes to be adapted to promoting the physical or mental health of the patient if:a. The treatment is administered with the consent of the patient or, if the patient is a minor or an incompetent person, with the consent of his parent, guardian or other person responsible for his care and supervision; orb. The treatment is administered in an emergency when the physician reasonably believes that no one competent to consent can be consulted and that a reasonable person, wishing to safeguard the welfare of the patient, would consent.

Roger :

Thus, unless the child is emancipated through a court petition and order, you're legally responsible for the care of the child.

Customer:

Would it be a possibiblity for me to request during the court hearing that we believe it is in the child's best interest to be placed into youth services thereby {hopefully} emancipating him. I have no intentions of allowing him back into our house as his level of violence has increased. I sleep with my door locked. I fear for my life. he has pulled a knife on other family members.

Roger :

You were reading my mind!

Roger :

You could contact your local youth court office (in your county) and report the child as being a juvenile delinquent and in need of special services.

Roger :

The youth court prosecutor and youth court judge could take custody of your son and either place him in a juvenile detention center, foster care or in the custody of a family member - like your brother in law.

Roger :

That would relieve you of your inherent responsibility and allow someone else to take responsibility for him until he's 19.

Customer:

Thank You. I have absolutely no control over him at this point and simply cannot imagine 1 more year of this behavior. At his point, if the court does not take that action, for the sake of those in the house, I would prefer to be charged with whatever the consequences are just to keep him away from the family members.

Roger :

It is unfortunate that you're in this situation, but it happens all the time (I'm the youth court prosecuting attorney in my county), and it's a very difficult situation.

Roger :

The best you could do is contact the youth court administration and ask about filing something to get things moving.

Customer:

One last question: If he is sent back to us and I refuse him entrance to the house, how and who would be charged? I am a step parent and have not adopted him. I will contact the juvenile officer today

Roger :

If you're not the biological or adoptive parent, you should not have any personal liability or exposure in this instance as you have no obligation to the child other than if you prevent the biological parent from allowing him back in.

Roger :

It would be likely that you'd be charged with being an accessory to child neglect of the biological parent.

Customer:

What are the likely consequences of that charge-playing devil's advocate?

Customer:

The mother definatley does not want him here.

Roger :

Let me look up the statute.

Customer:

Thank you sir.

Roger :

The child neglect definition statute says a child is anyone UNDER age 18: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/alcode/26/14/26-14-1

Roger :

So, it may be that you wouldn't even have any exposure.

Roger :

The age of majority laws and legal age fluctuate from statute to statute.

Customer:

Thank you sir! Knowledge is empowering. I appreciate your candor and advice. I will rate this exchange as "Excellent".

Roger, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 26892
Experience: BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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