Each state has its own laws governing rights for parents and responsibilities, but generally, parents are the individuals that have legal custody of a child. A child can’t have more than two legal parents at a time. For example, the parents of an adopted child are the child’s legal custodians, although they aren’t the biological parents. A
biological parent’s legal rights to a child are severed upon adoption.
In other cases, a parent may lose legal rights to a child if a court terminates the rights for parents for extreme neglect or violence toward the child. In cases where one or both parents’ rights are terminated, a custodian or legal guardian may be appointed to serve as the child’s parent. Whether a child’s legal parents are biological or
court-appointed, they enjoy the same rights and responsibilities under the law.
Rights for Parents
Parents have a great deal of control over their teens, because the right to bear and raise children is considered
supreme in the U.S. Parents can determine what school their child goes to, when he’ll be able to drive, what religion he
grows up in, when he can get a job, and whether he can marry before 18 years of age. The following list presents a few
additional rights parents have with regard to their children:
- In most states, parents have a right to their minor children’s income or earnings;
- Parents can control their child’s education, such as choosing to home school;
- Parents and schools have the right to tell children what to wear, so long as any school dress code promotes good health
- Although a teen has the right to free speech, a parent has the right to prohibit a child’s use of curse words;
- Parents can install “V-chips” and other devices to control what their children watch on television and see on the
- With limited exceptions, teens need parental approval to see a doctor or medical professional.
Parental Rights Legal Concept
The legal concept of rights for parents generally refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding a child’s education, health care, and religion, among other things. Parents, who are separated or divorced, rights do extend to custody and visitation. While these rights can be automatic in certain family structures, such as with married parents at the birth of the child, it may be necessary for a parent to petition a court for the rights, as in cases of disputed paternity.
Parental rights can also be terminated, either explicitly or implicitly. A father who never claims paternity, or against whom paternity is never established, has no parental rights. A father can also voluntarily relinquish parental rights. A court can also
terminate rights for either parent, against his or her wishes, in cases of abuse, neglect, and abandonment, or if a parent has a long-term mental illness, alcohol or drug impairment, or incarceration period.
Single Parents Rights
A mother’s rights are usually established by the fact she gave birth to the child, though that doesn’t necessarily guarantee sole
custody. An unmarried father’s rights aren’t so simple to establish. State laws vary on when paternity is presumed and when a man must prove it. If the mother is married at the time of conception, states generally presume her husband is the father. When that’s not the case, the biological father will have to prove paternity to establish any rights.
If the mother wasn’t married at the time of conception, many states presume the mother has sole custody. In this case, the father has to go to court to establish his rights. The father listed on the birth certificate indicates, in some states, that joint custody exists.
To legally change any rights or custody arrangements presumed under state law, you’ll need a court order.
Finally, if you’re unsure of your rights for parents, it’s a good idea to talk with a family law attorney. He or she can explain how the law and your specific situation may affect your rights. A lawyer can also draw up a formal custody agreement, and represent you in court to protect your rights.
Parents can also be legally responsible for their children’s behavior. State laws can vary, but from the time a child is around 8 years old and until he or she reaches the age of majority (18 in most states), parents could be subject to civil lawsuits or even criminal sanctions for the negligent or criminal acts of a child.
In civil cases, if a child’s negligence causes an injury to another, his or her parents can be ordered to pay damages or restitution. In the criminal sense, parents can be punished for their children’s delinquency or absence from school, gun crimes, or Internet crimes.
Parental liability can also be terminated like parental responsibility. Normally, your liability gets terminated automatically when a child reaches the age of majority and is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. However, if a parent’s legal rights are terminated for any reason, their legal liability is normally terminated as well.