My question involves emancipation laws for the State of: Missouri and Oklahoma.
Explanation of the circumstances is rather hard to hone down to a short paragraph but I will try my best to be as concise and to the point as possible...
We are Missouri residents. Our 16 year old son was refusing to do any school work, sneaking out of the house at night, abusive and insolent to parental and quickly headed toward trouble with the law. After much heartbreak and searching for an appropriate "children's home" to get him out of the local environment/temptations and hopefully help him with personal/life issues and high school completion. In January, 2008, he was "admitted" to a private/christian facility located in Oklahoma with the agreement/contract that he would be there (voluntary admission) for 2 years until just after his 18th birthday with the option of staying until spring of 2011 if necessary to complete HS. He will be 18 in October, 2010.
We have just been notified that he is still having some of the same issues (refusal to do school work, not following rules, etc) but for whatever reason the facility is now wanting to discharge him. We have talked to everyone we can (at the facility) and tried every avenue we know of to plead our case to convince them to keep him the agreed upon time frame to allow him every chance to possibly either get his HS diploma or earn a GED rather than just accepting their decision to discharge him early. Because we did not 'just accept their decision', word has it they may try to discharge him (even earlier) before his 18th birthday this fall under the premise that that if we do not come to get him we will be prosecuted for parental neglect or whatever applicable law.
Due to the issues/people he was involved in and the continued environment here, returning home would be toxic for him, we cannot under good conscience or using any common sense bring him "home", especially at this age since we will still be legally responsible for his actions and decisions but unable to control him. If he were at the age of responsibility and on his own and decided to move here, we would not support the decision but would have no choice, however until October, he is still 17.
We don't mind helping him were he to stay out of this area to get his life started however we would be entirely irresponsible (legally, morally, and possibly legally) to bring him back here or suggest he return to this area.
What would the legal standings be under the law in this circumstance since he is only a few months out from 18 and he has been under their care in Oklahoma for the past year + and were under agreement to have him until his 18th birthday...and so on...relating to their discharge of him before his 18th birthday? Would prosecution be practically viable on their / State of Oklahoma's part since he is only about 4 months away from his 18th birthday? Would emancipation be an option to allow for him to be responsible for himself between now and the fall and if so would our parental responsibility fall under the authority of Missouri (our legal residence) or Oklahoma (where the facility is located)?
We, like so many other parents with this type of issue, are walking a thin line and really some guidance on what direction we might want to go with this to prevent it from going really bad, really fast and only a few short months before it would be a non-issue..