Parental Liability: Am I Liable for My Child’s Offenses?

Child running in a water park

The term parental liability is used to refer to the obligation or responsibility of parents to pay for any damage that has resulted from their child’s intentional, negligent, or criminal offenses. Currently, the majority of states have parental liability laws. In Colorado, for example, their parental liability laws focus on damage/injury and shoplifting.

When Does It Begin and End?

Parental liability typically begins when the child reaches eight or 10 years old and ends when the child is no longer considered a minor, which is 18 years old in most states and 19 or 21 in others. A minor child is a lawful resident of the state where his or her parents or guardians live. However, if a minor child splits time between two parents who live in different states, each parent is automatically liable for the actions of the child while under their care.

Civil and Criminal Parental Liability

Offenses could either be criminal or civil. Civil offenses are typically lawsuits filed by the plaintiff for money damages, while the government files criminal offenses for specific violations, explains a prominent family law practitioner in Denver. Plenty of acts could trigger criminal and civil legal repercussions. In the majority of states, parents are liable for willful or malicious damage to property performed by their children. This is an example of civil parental liability since it’s not a criminal offense. It means that parents would be responsible for financially compensating the injured party.

Statutes that make parents criminally liable for their children’s delinquent acts followed the civil liability laws. Some of the most common examples or parental criminal liability include Internet-related crimes and firearm access. Plenty of states have laws preventing child firearm access that prohibits parents from leaving their firearm within easy reach of their children. Parents could also be held liable for some computer hacking and Internet access cases that involve their children.

What You Should Do If Faced by a Parental Liability Claim

Even the most well-behaved and kind children could sometimes find themselves in situations that end up badly, and you in front of a judge. Fortunately, if you find yourself facing a claim for parental liability, you could get help from an experienced family lawyer to help you review the case and determine the best options available for you.