Parental Rights Lawyers
What Are Parental Rights?
Parental rights are those legal rights that every parent has in relation to their child. Most of these rights deal with the parent’s authority to make important decisions on behalf of the child or children.
Parental rights can include:
- Rights to physical and legal custody of the child
- Visitation and contact rights
- The right to consent to medical treatment and care for the child
- The right to contract on the child’s behalf
- Rights to inherit property from the child, and to have the child inherit from the parent
- The right to approve important decisions such as marriage or military enlistment
These rights are generally assumed to be automatic for the biological parents of a child. Parental rights may also be extended to persons beside the biological parent, such as a foster parent or legal guardian.
What Are “Parental Obligations”?
When speaking of parental rights, it is important to understand that parents also have legal obligations to their children. Parental obligations are those responsibilities that parents must exercise when raising their children.
Some parental obligations include:
- The obligation to provide enough financial support for the child
- The obligation to provide care, direction, and supervision for the child
- The obligation to be liable for certain types of damages caused by the child
- The obligation to ensure that the child attends school
- Obligations to provide a safe living environment and protection for the child
Failure to follow parental obligations can result in legal consequences for the parent. In severe cases, violations of parental obligations can be considered neglect or even abuse.
Can Parental Rights Be Terminated?
Yes- termination of parental rights can happen in two ways:
- Voluntary Termination: The parent may agree to forfeit their legal rights and obligations to the child, for example if the parent surrenders the child for adoption
- Involuntary Termination: Parental rights may be terminated even against a parent’s will by a judge or court order. For example, if the parent has been found guilty of neglect or child abuse, a judge can limit or terminate parental rights such as visitation privileges
Depending on the circumstances, the other parent may not need to consent to a termination of the other parent’s legal rights.
What Are “Residual Parental Rights”?
Residual parental rights are those rights that remain with a natural parent after they have transferred legal custody of their child. Residual parental rights usually include: visitation rights, rights to consent to adoption, and rights to determine the child’s religious upbringing.
Residual parental obligations usually include the responsibility to pay child support. As with other parental rights, residual rights can be terminated with or without the parent’s consent if a judge deems it to be necessary.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Legal Issues Involving Parental Rights?
Parental rights are central to the upbringing and care of a child. If you have any legal issues involving parental rights, you may wish to get in touch with a lawyer for advice. A family lawyer in your area can explain your parental rights and obligations towards your child. If you are involved in any legal disputes over parental rights, a lawyer can represent you in court.
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Last Modified: 02-27-2014 10:53 AM PST
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