What Is the Minimum Legal Age to Leave Home?

According to Nolo, the minimum legal age to leave home is 16 in most states; legally leaving home before age 18 is called emancipation. Emancipation frees parents from their financial obligations to support the minor. Minors are free from any obligation to remain physically with their parents. Generally, there are three ways to get emancipated: marriage, joining the military or petitioning a court.

Most states require parental permission for marriage before a certain age. Joining the military requires a high school diploma or its equivalent. Successfully petitioning the court typically requires the applicant to show financial support, adequate living arrangements and a plan to complete secondary education, explains the Connecticut Network for Legal Aid.

Nolo explains that the minimum age for emancipation varies from state-to-state. In California, the minimum age to apply for emancipation is 14. An alternative to emancipation for a minor who has not reached the minimum age is termination of parental rights in the case of child neglect or abuse. However, if parental rights are terminated and the teen is not eligible for emancipation, the teen becomes a ward of the state, according to Sacramento County Public Law Library. Even when emancipated, the teenager does not have all the rights and responsibilities of an adult. He cannot vote or buy tobacco products, notes the Alaska Bar Association.