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My Teen Is Having a Baby. What Are My Legal Obligations to the Baby?

Posted on in Child Custody

pregnant-teenThe prospect of a teenage son or daughter becoming a parent raises questions for an entire family. Where will the baby live? How will the baby's parents support him or her? And for many, who makes important financial, medical, and lifestyle decisions on the infant's behalf when his or her parents are minors themselves? Child custody decisions, whether they are in regard to your child or your grandchild, can be complicated.

Even Teen Parents Have Full Parental Rights for Their Children Unless These Rights Are Terminated by the Court

Even if your child is under the age of 18 and unable to make legal decisions for him- or herself, he or she has full parental rights to his or her child. These rights include the right to consent to medical care throughout the pregnancy and birth, the right to make medical decisions for the baby after it is born.

If the baby's parents do not live together, either may go to the court to seek a custody arrangement. Like all other custody arrangements, the court determines the best place for the baby to live according to multiple factors, such as:

  • Each parent's income level;
  • The hazards present in either household; and
  • Each parent's ability to provide for the child's medical and personal needs.

If you feel your grandchild is in danger, you can petition to the court to seek custody of him or her. However, the court generally tries to keep children in the custody of their parents, only terminating this right if the child is in grave danger.

Having a Baby Does Not Automatically Emancipate an Adolescent

Emancipation refers to the point at which a child legally becomes an adult. For most adolescents, this date is their eighteenth birthday. However, it is possible for a younger teen to become emancipated if the court determines that this is in his or her best interest. Getting married or joining the military automatically emancipate an adolescent, meaning that they terminate the teen's parents' obligation to support him or her. Having a baby does not – if your teenage son or daughter becomes a parent, you are still required to support and provide a home for him or her.

As a grandparent, you do not have direct legal obligations to your grandchild. Although you are required to continue to provide for your own child and as such, provide for his or her child, you do not have to pay child support or adhere to a parenting time schedule for your grandchild. You might be able to add your grandchild to your health insurance policy, depending on the terms of the policy. Speak with your insurance provider about this. If you cannot add him or her to the policy, you can apply for Medicaid to cover his or her medical needs.

Kane County Family Attorneys

For help working through the complicated, sometimes exhausting process of determining the custody and support of an underage son or daughter's child, work with an experienced family attorney. Our team of skilled Kane County family attorneys at Goostree Law Group can answer your questions and help you secure a safe, nurturing custody plan for your infant grandchild.



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