In Texas it seems to be very complicated as to what happens to a child when they turn 17. In the eyes of the criminal courts they are treated as an adult and prosecuted as an adult. In the Family court they are still under the courts control as a child until they turn 18. The big problem comes when a child turns 17 and leaves on parents house, against that parents will, and goes to live with the other parent or some other adult, maybe even an adult boyfriend or girlfriend. The police typically will not get involved and will tell you it is a civil matter. I have although experienced that some agencies will actually go to the house where the 17 year old is and threaten to take them to juvenile detention if they do not go back. I have not seen too many District Attorney’s here in the Sugar Land, Fort Bend County Texas area excited to file a runaway charge on a 17 year old. When they go to the other parents house it creates two problems. The first problem is dealing with the police and the issue of possibly harboring a runaway. I think it is very difficult argument to make that you should turn your own child out in the street. The second problem is the possible ramifications in the family court. The court order, if one is in place, still controlls till the child turn 18. The court can summons the child to court to talk to them, and I suppose even charge them with contempt of court if they refuse to follow the court order. The parent could be held in contempt if they are encouraging the child to come and stay. I think the parents job is to encourage the child to go back to the other parent and make the child available to the other parent to allow them to convice the child to come back. This is all in theory and with a 17 year old it is nearly impossible to get them back if they are set on not going back and are not willing to follow the parents instructions, which is an issue for a whole other blog. When the child goes to stay with some other adult, such as a friends parent or with an adult boyfriend that is where the adult could be setting themselves up for possible criminal penalties. I have not had any cases where the police or the district attorney’s office have actually pursued an adult who offered shelter to a 17 year old. The best thing the adult can do is make the child available to the police or the parent to attempt to get them to go back. If they try to hide them or refuse access then that tends to get the authorities wanting to flex some power. Let me know what you think or what your experiences have been from the parent side, the child side, the adult who takes one in, the police side or attorney’s who have had experience with it.