Who is a parent?
Each state has its own laws governing parental rights and responsibilities, but generally, parents are the individuals that have legal custody of a child. A child can’t have more than two legal parents at a time. For example, the parents of an adopted child are the child’s legal custodians, although they aren’t the biological parents. A biological parent’s legal rights to a child are severed upon adoption.
In other cases, a parent may lose legal rights to a child if a court terminates the parent’s rights for extreme neglect or violence toward the child. In cases where one or both parents’ rights are terminated, a custodian or legal guardian may be appointed to serve as the child’s parent. Whether a child’s legal parents are biological or court-appointed, they enjoy the same rights and responsibilities under the law.
What are a Parent’s Legal Responsibilities to a Child?
A parent must meet a child’s basic needs and parent in a way that serves the child’s best interests. Parents also have a financial duty to support their children, which typically continues until each child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. In most cases, a parent doesn’t have a financial responsibility to a child over 18, unless the child has special needs.
A parent must serve a child’s emotional and physical needs and protect the child from abuse from the other parent or another household member. Additionally, parents must meet their children's basic needs for food, clothing, housing, medical care, and education.
What are Parental Rights?
Specifically, parental rights include: