Along with the rights regarding their children, parents–including fathers–owe the following duties and obligations to their children:
- Duty of care and control. Parents–including fathers–have the duty to care for, control, protect and discipline their children.
- Duty to support. Parents–including fathers–have the duty to support their children. Support includes the provision of clothing, food, shelter, medical and dental care, and education. The duty to support is not limited to bare necessities and begins when the child is born, regardless of whether a court has ordered a parent to pay child support.The duty to support lasts until a child loses minority status (i.e., by turning 18, getting married or having the disabilities of minority removed by court order). However, the duty does not end at age 18 if the child is in school seeking a high school diploma or the parent is required to pay child support beyond age 18 pursuant to the terms of an agreement or by court order.The duty to support also ends when the parent-child relationship is terminated by court order or when either the parent or the child dies. However, a court can order–or the parents can agree–that child support will continue after the obligated parent’s death. A parent who does not pay child support is liable to any person (even the other parent) who provides for the child’s necessities. Occasionally buying a child a meal or giving gifts to a child do not fulfill a parent’s duty to support. A parent who does not support his or her children can have their parental rights terminated.
- Duty to manage estate. Parents–including fathers–have the duty to manage a child’s estate, including the right to act on behalf of the estate as the child’s agent. This duty applies unless an independent guardian of the child’s estate is appointed.
Responsible parents–including responsible fathers–fulfill their duties to their children in addition to exercising their rights. Fathers–if you need help clarifying or modifying your parental duties, call Sonya Coffman. Because . . . family matters.