We all lead busy lives, and when you reach that milestone where your child is old enough and mature enough to be left home alone, it can open up a lot of time for you as a parent – especially if you are a single parent who is the primary custodian. The fact is that the State of Texas has no legal age established that demarcates a line between being too young and being old enough to stay home alone. A predetermined age, however, cannot adequately take your child’s unique strengths and weaknesses into account in making this critical determination. Read on to learn more.
Your Responsibility as a Parent
Being a divorced parent can be difficult. While it would be far more convenient to run a quick errand and leave your child at home during your brief absence, there is a lot to consider before you make this decision. As a parent, you are also responsible for your child’s safety, and failure to safely supervise your child appropriately can be deemed a form of neglect. In most cases, neglect is unintentional. When parents leave children alone before they are ready and adverse consequences occur as a result, however, they could be held criminally liable. Even if a child were not seriously harmed, however, an ex may be able to use the fact of a child being left alone against another parent in a custody battle. In other words, there is far too much at stake to be in error on this critical decision.
Family and Protective Services Weighs In
To help you make a decision that is right for you and your child, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services provides parents with the following considerations when it comes to making a well-informed decision on the matter:
- What is your child’s age; how capable is your child; and what is his or her level of emotional maturity?
- How many children are you leaving unsupervised?
- How safe is your home in general (including its overall layout and the layout of the play area)?
- Does your neighborhood present special hazards or risks?
- Does your child have a disability (mental, medical, or physical)?
- Will your child know where you are, and will he or she be able to reach you or another responsible adult if he or she needs to?
- Is your child capable of responding appropriately to an emergency, such as illness, fire, or severe storm?
- How long and how often will you be leaving your child alone?
The breadth and depth of these questions let you know that it is important to carefully consider the unique situation that you find yourself in and to make your decision based on the circumstances involved.
Discuss Your Child Supervision Concerns with a Dedicated Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney who has the skill, knowledge, and experience to help you address any child supervision concerns you have. Your family law issues are important, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.