Parenting is a sacred duty, and the decisions you make help in shaping the future of your children. It's your duty to guide your child from when they're born up to when they reach a certain age. Parental responsibilities are mutually shared between you and your partner in marriage, without the need for a legal document.
However, in the case of divorce or separation, you and your partner have to agree on your duties as far as parental responsibilities are concerned.
What is parental responsibility?
Parental responsibility is the legal duties, rights, authority, and powers you as a parent have for a child and everything that belongs to them. This power allows you to make significant decisions concerning your child’s care and upbringing like:
- Their education
- Choosing, registering, or changing their name
- Consenting to medical treatment
Parental responsibility also dictates that you meet certain legal conditions:
- Ensure your child has basic needs like food, shelter, medical care
- Provide a safe environment free of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse
- Nurture the self-esteem of your child by accepting them for who they are, supporting, and encouraging them to grow in life
- Instill in them moral values like patience, honesty, and responsibility while correcting them when wrong
- Respect their opinion, feelings, and individuality
- Take a genuine interest in their education and learning, and spend quality time with them to guide them in defining their life goals.
Your legal responsibilities are unlimited, and you must exercise them until your child attains a certain age.
Exceptions to parental responsibility
According to the law in the United States, the birth mother has the first parental responsibility. The father has parental responsibility if:
- He was married to the child’s mother at the time of birth. Only one set of parents have parental responsibility at any one time.
- He was not married to the child's mother, but his name appears on the child's birth certificate as the father.
A few exceptions are:
- If the child was born before a relationship between the mother and the father, the father has to apply for joint parental responsibility through the court.
- If the mother is a minor when the child is born, a guardian is appointed for the child. Once the mother becomes of age, she can assume full parental responsibility for her child.
- If an unmarried man marries the child's mother, he can accept parental responsibility and be named as the father in the certificate.
- The grandparents can volunteer to have parental responsibility if the child’s parents are unfit or dead. Alternatively, the responsibility can be assigned to a certified agency.
Your parental responsibility towards your child is highest when your child is an infant. Gradually, your child grows to a stage where they no longer need support and become independent.
When does parental responsibility end?
Your responsibility towards your child legally ends when your child gets to the age of 18 years. It also ends if they get married or enter into a registered partnership before 18 years. The court may also have the upper hand in terminating your parental responsibility.
The decision by a judge to end your parental responsibility. Your child’s judge can give parental responsibility to someone else with or without your consent. However, they will ask for your opinion on the matter, and a lawyer can help you with the process. If your child is more than 12 years old, the judge will also ask for their opinion. This mostly happens when the welfare of your child is threatened while under your care because of:
- Abandoning the child
- Chronic abuse or neglect
- Long-term mental illness
- Felony or imprisonment
- Inability to provide for your child
- Long-term alcohol abuse
Voluntary termination. You can decide to give up the responsibility of your child. You can do this by surrendering your obligation to a registered adoption agency or by choosing adoptive parents.
Divorce. In the case of a divorce, you and your partner can mutually agree on the parental responsibility of a minor. Otherwise, the court decides while considering the best interest of the child. Your court may assign you:
- Sole physical custody: the child shall live with you or your spouse, but the legal control rests with both of you. You must get approval by the court while the other parent gets visitation rights.
- Joint physical custody: the child is under the supervision of both you and your partner.
- Sole legal custody: only one parent has the authority to make all critical decisions regarding the child. Physical custody also rests with the same parent.
- Joint legal custody: both you and your partner have a say in making decisions concerning the child. You can share legal custody even if you don't share physical custody.
Latest Healthy Kids News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Child Welfare Information Gateway: "Termination of Parental Rights."
Family Relations: "Parental Rights in Diverse Family Contexts: Current Legal Developments."
GOV.UK: "Parental rights and responsibilities."
Journal of Children's and Young People's Nursing: "Parental Responsibility: A legal perspective."
Journal of Comparative Family Studies: "The Beginning and End of Parental Responsibility- Finnish Parents' View."
Journal of Family Psychology: "Child Adjustment in Joint-Custody Versus Sole Custody Arrangements: A Meta-Analytic Review."
Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry: "A Study of Parents Who Sought Joint Custody Following Divorce: Who Reaches Agreement and Sustains Joint Custody and Who Returns to Court."
NSW Government: "Your duties and rights as a parent."
Rights of Women: "Parental Responsibility."
Safeguarding Network: "Parental responsibility."
UNICEF: "5 Ways to help set your child up for future success."
Walden University ScholarWorks: "Review of Child-Custody Standards and its Effects on Children of Cohabiting and Non-Cohabiting Fathers."
Top At What Age Is a Parent Not Legally Responsible Related Articles
13 Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHDParenting a teenager who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be challenging. Parents can use specific strategies to help their teen cope with school and homework. Special care should be taken to help an ADHD teen drive safely and avoid alcohol and drug use.
ADHD in Children: Understanding, Discipline and Better ParentingADHD is a common disorder seen in children. Parents can learn tips and techniques to teach children life skills, coping mechanisms, and better ways to learn with ADHD.
Alcohol and TeensAlcohol is the most frequently used drug by American teenagers. Teens that drink are more likely to drive under the influence, have unprotected sex, and use other drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Symptoms of alcohol abuse in teens include lying, breaking curfew, becoming verbally or physically abusive toward others, making excuses, smelling like alcohol, having mood swings, and stealing.
How Do Adults Deal With Overbearing Parents?An overbearing parent is someone who wants control over their kid’s life and choices. Adults can deal with overbearing parents by telling them you can't continue with family traditions or rituals, responding with gratitude, declaring off-limits topics, not answering calls and texts and establishing boundaries.
How Does Single Parenting Affect a Child?A single parent brings up a child without the assistance of a partner. The effect of single parenting on a child may be good or bad.
How Does Having an Autistic Child Affect the Parents?Being a parent to a child with special needs is associated with various challenges. Having an autistic child may stress the parents so seeking the help of family and friends and a licensed therapist is important as is taking breaks.
New Parents MistakesParenting a child isn't easy. Explore the top 10 mistakes that new parents make. Discover newborn parenting tips for breastfeeding, learn to deal with crying babies, child's fevers, and more.
ParentingGood parenting helps foster empathy, honesty, self-reliance, self-control, kindness, cooperation, and cheerfulness, says Steinberg, a distinguished professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. It also promotes intellectual curiosity, motivation, and desire to achieve. It helps protect children from developing anxiety, depression, eating disorders, antisocial behavior, and alcohol and drug abuse.
Parenting Guide: Healthy Principles That WorkGood parenthood isn't magical. It takes learning, dedication, and hard work. Learn how to set rules, offer love, and discipline children appropriately and set yourself on the track to becoming a better parent.
Teen Drug AbuseDrugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants, narcotics, hallucinogens, PCP, ketamine, Ecstasy, and anabolic steroids. Some of the symptoms and warning signs of teen drug abuse include reddened whites of eyes, paranoia, sleepiness, excessive happiness, seizures, memory loss, increased appetite, discolored fingertips, lips or teeth, and irritability. Treatment of drug addiction may involve a combination of medication, individual, and familial interventions.
Teen Drama: Handling Mean Girls, Cyber Bullying, and TextingHere are tips on dealing with teen dating, sexting, cyber bullying, mean girls, periods, bad breath, and more as health experts explain when and how to get help.
What Age Is Hardest to Parent?A recent survey showed that parents of 12- to 14-year-old teens had a harder time than parents of toddlers, elementary school children, high school children, and adult children.
What Are Teenager Problems with Parents?Teenhood is a complex phase of life in which there are so many physical, emotional, and intellectual changes. The teenager might be coping with a variety of issues at this age. They may have a constant conflict with their parents because they want to assert their independence and be in control of their lives.
Why Does Teenage Rebellion Happen?Teenage rebellion is a leading cause of conflict between parents and their teenagers. Teen rebellion happens due to their brain development, need for control, struggle for acceptance, attention seeking, over worried parents, hormone changes and the teens' fight for independence.