While the laws on family matters vary greatly from state to state, all 50 states agree that a “parent” is an individual who has legal custody of a child. Under Missouri family law, a parent has certain rights and responsibilities that a non-parent does not. A parent’s rights are not guaranteed and can be terminated or severed under extenuating circumstances. For instance, many biological parents voluntarily forfeit their rights when they put their child up for adoption. In other instances, one or both parents’ rights can be terminated if the courts find them guilty of extreme neglect or violence towards the child.
At Blackwell & Associates, P.C., our O’Fallon family law attorneys dedicate their time to ensuring that new parents and potential legal guardians understand what it means to be a parent and that they use that knowledge to provide the best and most stable environment for the child in their charge.
What Are Parental Rights?
Being a parent is a privilege, which is why it is important that legal parents or guardians take their rights and responsibilities seriously. Specific parental rights include:
- The Right To Physical Custody: This includes the right to reasonable visitation and regular contact with the child.
- The Right To Legal Custody: Legal custody differs from physical custody in that it gives a parent the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, health, education, and religious affiliation.
- The Right To Pass Property: This gives the parent the right to pass property on to the child via a gift or inheritance.
- The Right To A Child’s Earnings: A parent has the right to their child’s earnings and to inherit from the child in the event of the child’s death.
Two parents may share in these rights, but in the event that the two parents are separated or divorced, the rights may be split, or in some instances, given to one parent.
What Are A Parent’s Legal Responsibilities?
A parent’s legal responsibilities are vast, but the most basic include the obligation to provide the child with food, clothing, housing, medical care and education. A parent must at least meet the child’s basic needs in order to retain parental rights. Other parental responsibilities can include the obligation to financially support the child until the age of 18, to provide the child with emotional and physical support, and to protect the child from harm.
Family law can be a complex area of the law as it often deals with children who are unable to speak up for themselves. A child’s best interests are always the number one priority of the family court, and it is up to the judge to determine which one or two people are fit to meet a child’s needs. Oftentimes, the judge must base his or her decision on one or two meetings and some paperwork.
At the O’Fallon law firm of Blackwell & Associates, P.C., our family law attorneys help our clients retain their parental rights, or even obtain more rights, by assisting the judge via evidence and testimonies. To learn more, visit our website, or call (636) 240-3632 to schedule a consultation.