My Daughter Has Moved Out and is Running with Gangs. How Can I Protect Myself Legally?

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“I live in NY state. I had physical custody of my 15 year old daughter until recently. She left my home after becoming violent with her younger siblings, sneaking out,using foul language and becoming very disrespectful. Her mother,who will not let her reside with her,set her up against us telling her if she didn’t like it with me she could live with her cousin. After that she became very defiant and mean. To make a very long story short, my ex brother inlaw now has permanent custody of her. I hear she is still getting into trouble and running with gangs. My question is, since the courts let her live with her uncle and wouldn’t let me put her in a home, what can I do to protect my self if she really gets into trouble? Should I extinguish my parental rights and if so how do I do that? Will that mean I will not be held responsible if she gets in to trouble. Also, will I have to still pay child support, (I also think that may have been part of the motive for my ex brother-in-law to want custody) thank you”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Termination of legal rights does not necessaily terminate legal responsibilities, unless there is someone willing to take those legal responsibilities. Parents are not necessarily liable for the intentional wrongs of their children, so you may not be liable for some things your daughter does. Even though there is a procedure in many states for terminating parental rights, you’re still going to probably have to keep on paying support until your daughter reaches majority, is adopted or becomes self-sufficient.

Here are some core legal principles from New York cases:

A parent’s obligation to support his or her children in accordance with their needs and his or her means is codified by N.Y. Fam. Ct. Court Act S 413 (1) (a), which provides that the parents of a child under the age of twenty-one years are chargeable with the support of such child and, if possessed of sufficient means or able to earn such means, shall be required to pay for child support a fair and reasonable sum as the court may determine.

Family Law : Parental Rights & Duties : Emancipation of Minors Despite the fact that parents have a continuing obligation to support their children until they reach the age of 21 years, it is beyond cavil that emancipation of the child suspends the parent’s support obligation. Children are emancipated if they become economically independent of their parents through employment, entry into military service, or marriage, and may also be deemed constructively emancipated if, without cause, they withdraw from parental control and supervision. N.Y. Fam. Ct. Act S 413.

A notable case on point with a discussion of similar facts to yours might be IN THE MATTER OF ALICE C., RESPONDENT V. BERNARD G. C., APPELLANT 193 A.D.2d 97; 602 N.Y.S.2d 623.

I will make my usual pitch that people should stay as involved in their children’s lives as possible. They did not ask to be born. Children are helpless when they are born. Children are legally entitled to financial support, and deserve emotional support.

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Author: House Attorney

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