Parenting involves many responsibilities like feeding, clothing, and housing their children. But many parents don’t realize they have additional legal responsibilities with raising a child as well. Specifically, these legal responsibilities involve the rights parents hold regarding their ability to see their children and parent them, including the responsibilities they have for managing the actions of their children.
On a legal level, parental rights refer to a parent's prerogative to make decisions revolving around their children's healthcare, religion, education, etc. In the event of a divorce, these rights are defined through a visitation and custody agreement. In some situations, parents may have to petition the court to solidify the rights they have with their children, such as in disputed paternity cases.
While state laws vary, parents can be held legally responsible for the behavior of their children. In some cases, parents can be subject to lawsuits from the time their children turn eight to when they reach adulthood at the age of 18. Just like parental responsibility can be terminated, so can parental liability. Additionally, when a parent's legal rights to a child are terminated, so is their legal liability.
In the majority of states, parents are responsible for any willful or malicious property damage as well as delinquent acts done by their children. Liability also only applies to parents with underage children. While civil liability may only require financial compensation paid to the affected party, criminal liability carries significant consequences. Examples of criminal liability include drug possession laws and unlawful firearm use.
Many parents worry about what they should do when their parental rights are threatened either by their ex-partner or another person, agency, or institution. If you feel your parental rights are being threatened, do an online search for "family lawyers near me" to find a legal professional. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and procedures related to your case.