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Section IV:
PARENTAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

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Q. IV.1 Are parents always held legally and financially responsible for their
children?
(a) If so, until what age?
(b) Does this include responsibilities for medical bills?
(c) What if a youth is not living at home?

What are the legal implications for parents who kick their child out of home before the child's 21st birthday?

Q. IV.2 Who is responsible for a child whose parents cannot be located?

Q. IV.3 What recourse does a parent have with an incorrigible child?

Q. IV.4 What is a Child Maltreatment Petition?

Q. IV.5 Can a parent circumvent a child's right to shelter by getting a "943- order" (psychiatric pick-up order)?

Q. IV.6 What rights do parents have when their child is living outside their home? What are the legal risks a person assumes if he/she houses a child who has run away from home?

Q. IV.7 Does a shelter have to contact a parent/guardian if a child in the runaway program is over the age of 16?


Q. IV.1 Are parents always held legally and financially responsible for their children?
(a) If so, until what age?
(b) Does this include medical costs?
(c) What if a youth is not living at home?

What are the legal implications for parents who kick their child out of home before the child's 21st birthday?

A. (a) According to the Domestic Relations Law 32 and Family Court Act 413, parents, if they are financially able, are responsible for the support of their children until they reach 21. Parents cannot be required to support their children over 21 unless there is an express agreement in place between that parent and child.

In New York State, abandonment of a child under the age of 14 is a crime (New York State Penal Law 260). A parent, who refuses to support a child under the age of 16, can be charged with the crime of non-support.

Generally, a parent is not responsible for a contract signed by a minor. However, under the "Doctrine of Necessaries," a parent and minor may be held responsible for a minor's contract for essential items (food, shelter, clothing).

(b) Minors living on their own may be responsible for their own health care. However, based on the legal obligation of parents to support their children, parents can be held liable for the cost of the child's medical care when a minor is living at home, even if they (the parents) have not given consent. This is true in the case of an emergency medical treatment.

(c) When a youth under the age of 21, leaves home without parental consent and without "good cause," or refuses to obey the reasonable rules set by their parents, the young person may forfeit his/her claim to parental support. If the child leaves home because the conditions are unbearable, the parents may not be relieved of the obligation to support the young person. However, the young person may have to bring the parents to Family Court to obtain support in such cases.

Q. IV.2 Who is responsible for a child whose parents cannot be located?

A. According to the Child Welfare Reform Act, when a child's parents are unavailable and the child is under 18, the local Department of Social Services should offer the youth placement in foster care.

Q. IV.3 What recourse does a parent have with an incorrigible child?

A. Parents can file a Person In Need of Supervision (PINS) Petition against their "incorrigible" children who are under the age of 18. With an older youth, the parent may be able to obtain an Order of Protection from the Family Court if the child is 18 or older and the "incorrigibility" constitutes a Family Offense.

Q. IV.4 What is a Child Maltreatment Petition?

A Child Maltreatment Petition is the Court document filed by a Child Protection Agency (the Office of Children & Family Services) which alleges that the child is an abused/neglected child. It is often referred to as an "Article 10 petition." The petition must adequately notify the parent of the time, place and nature of the alleged abuse.

Q. IV.5 Can a parent circumvent a child's right to shelter by getting a "9.43-order" (psychiatric pick-up order)?

A. Section 9.43 of the Mental Hygiene Law permits judges to issue warrants on the verified statement of a parent that a child is mentally ill. The warrant authorizes the police to take the child into custody to deliver the child to court. Once in court, the judge will determine whether the child is in need of a psychiatric evaluation. The warrant issued is only valid for 30 days, and may only be enforced during court hours.

The judge will have to determine whether or not the child is likely to harm him/herself or others due to mental illness. The child has the right to counsel in such proceeding and should request that one be assigned if an attorney has not been appointed. For further information, the Mental Health Information Service in your region should be contacted.

Q. IV.6 What rights do parents have when their child is living outside their home? What are the legal risks a person assumes if he/she houses a child who has run away from home?

A. If a child is under the age of 18, a parent may call the police to pick up the child to bring the child home. Remember, however, that for a period of up to 30 days any child may stay at a certified runaway program (which includes programs that use host homes for residential services), and the police may not force his/her return home.

If the child is under the age of 18 and is living with someone outside his/her home, and not in a certified program, the police can pick up the minor and bring him/her home or to the court.

Q. IV.7 Does a shelter have to contact a parent/guardian if a child in the runaway program is over the age of 16?

A. The New York State Runaway and Homeless Youth Act of 1978 defines a runaway as a person, under the age of 18, who is out of the home without the knowledge or consent of the parent/guardian. The Act requires that parents/guardians be notified within 72 hours (preferably within 24) of a minor's arrival at the shelter. This requirement is only waived when there are "compelling reasons" not to notify the parents.

Notification only requires that the shelter let the parent know: that the child is at a certified program, the emotional and physical condition of the child, and the circumstances that brought the child to the program. The program never has to disclose the child's actual location.

Empire State Coalition
P.O. Box 25312
Brooklyn, NY 11202-5312
Phone: (718) 237-2722

Email: info@EmpireStateCoalition.org



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