When Is Leaving a Child at Home Alone Illegal?

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When Is Leaving a Child at Home Alone Illegal?

Every parent occasionally must decide if it is appropriate to leave a child at home alone. Depending on state law and child protective policies, leaving a child at home alone could be considered child neglect and have major consequences. For this reason, it is important to understand when it is considered legally acceptable to leave a child at home alone.

What Does State Law Say?

Most state laws are vague on the subject. Surprisingly, only two states have laws specifying the minimum age a child must be to be left at home alone. In Maryland, a kid must be at least 8 years old and in Illinois, a kid must be at least 14 years old.

Instead of establishing a minimum age, the rest of the states weigh several factors to determine when leaving a child alone is legal. The major factors include:

Seeking Legal Help

If you have questions about the legality of leaving your child at home alone, you should contact your state’s branch of Child Protective Services. Another option is to consult with a family lawyer. An experienced attorney can let you know how cases are handled in your state and advise you of your rights and responsibilities.

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Last Modified: 05-27-2014 10:12 AM PDT

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