Currently, there are only three states that have a minimum age requirement, ranging from age 8 to 14, for leaving a child home alone.
The majority of states do not have a specific age of when it is legal to leave a child home alone. Rather, the child’s age and maturity level, the safety of the surrounding area/circumstances, and the steps taken to ensure the child’s safety are all taken into consideration.
The following are general guidelines that child protective agencies may consider in determining when it is legal, or illegal, to leave a child home alone. Before making the decision to leave your child alone, be sure to check your own state’s laws first.
Age range guidelines:
Every situation is different, and parents must carefully weigh the age and maturity of their child, how long the child will be left alone, the safety of the child’s surroundings, and other factors that may contribute to the decision on whether a child should be left alone.
Most states do not have set laws on when it is legal to leave a child home alone. Be sure to refer to your state’s laws before making the decision to leave your child unsupervised.
If your state is part of the majority that do not outline the legalities of leaving children alone, you should be aware that courts weigh the following:
If a parent has been reported for leaving their child unattended, it is highly likely that an agency such as Child Protective Services (CPS) will investigate the incident through interviews with the parent, child, neighbors, and other witnesses.
If CPS finds that the parent was endangering the child by leaving him or her alone, the child will likely be removed from the home and placed with relatives or in foster care. Criminal charges for the parent, such as child neglect, may follow.
An experienced family law attorney can answer any questions regarding your child and when it is legal to leave him or her alone. You can also contact Child Protective Services in your state. If you are facing an investigation by CPS, a local lawyer can advise you of your rights, and represent your best interests in court.
Last Modified: 08-16-2018 12:48 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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