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Do Courts View Free-Range Parenting as Child Neglect?

Posted on in Child Custody

Do Courts View Free-Range Parenting as Child Neglect?Parents commonly disagree on how much supervision and protection their children need. While many parents seek a balance between freedom and control, some parents skew heavily towards one side. Helicopter parents believe their constant involvement protects their children and guides them towards the right path. Free-range parents believe that giving their children independence teaches them self-sufficiency. Both parenting styles have some merit, but laws favor helicopter parenting over free-range parenting because allowing a child to roam freely can be viewed as neglect. A divorcing parent who believes in a free-range style may also be at a disadvantage when a court determines the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Definition of Neglect

Parents in a divorce may accuse each other of neglect as a reason why they should be the children’s primary parent. Illinois has a legal definition of child neglect that includes:

  • A child who is not receiving necessary nourishment or medical treatment;
  • A child who is living in an environment that is likely to cause harm; or
  • A parent who blatantly disregards his or her responsibilities or abandons a child.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services may take the children away from a parent that it believes is being neglectful.

Free-Range Parenting and Neglect

People who follow a free-range style of parenting often allow their children to walk to and from public places without their supervision. They believe it is normal and healthy for their children to walk to school or a park on their own. However, other parents view this as neglect because of the potential dangers a child can face without parental observation. There have been publicized cases of people calling the police because they saw young children walking home by themselves. It is up to family services to determine when a free-range parent’s laxness is actually a disregard of his or her parental responsibilities. Earlier this year, Utah became the first state to enact a law saying that parents are not being neglectful by allowing children of an appropriate age to walk alone to and from places.

Effect on Divorce

Even when a free-range parent’s actions do not legally qualify as neglect, a divorce court may still view such a parenting style as irresponsible. American society generally believes that being protective is a better indicator of being a good parent than allowing children freedom. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can argue how your approach to parenting makes you deserving of a fair share of parental responsibilities. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1460&ChapterID=32

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