When is Leaving a Child at Home Alone Illegal?

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Every parent eventually needs to make a decision about when it is the right time to leave their child at home alone.  Many parents look to the law for help determining when it is appropriate to leave a child home alone.  However, most states’ laws are vague on the subject.

Surprisingly, only Maryland and Illinois have laws specifying the age at which kids can be left at home alone (8 years old in Maryland, while Illinois says the child must be 14).  Instead of having a firm age limit, the rest of the states weigh a variety of factors to determine when leaving a child alone is legal.  These factors include the child’s maturity level, the amount of time the child was left alone, and the parents’ concern for the well-being of the child.

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: 09-14-2012 02:47 PM PDT

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