Illinois Parental Responsibility Law

When you are a parent, one of your primary goals is to ensure that your children are healthy and safe, with all of their needs met. Unfortunately, not all parents are willing or able to fulfill that responsibility, and their children end up causing harm to people or damage to their property. Some states, including Illinois, have put laws in place to ensure that parents are held responsible for the negative actions that their children commit. An experienced family law attorney from Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC, can help you understand parental responsibility laws, learn how they may impact child custody agreements, and navigate any legal cases that you or your children may face.

The Basics of Parental Responsibility Laws

While children often make mistakes as they learn and grow, some of those mistakes will have more serious consequences than others. When a child is learning personal hygiene, like brushing their teeth, they may clog a sink and unintentionally flood part of a bathroom, leading to repair costs for their family, which is a relatively minor issue. In other situations, like spray painting a neighbor’s home or hitting another child and injuring them, their mistake caused damage to another person or their property. This is much more serious.

Parental responsibility laws were put in place as a way to help those impacted by the misbehavior of children receive proper compensation. These laws may vary from state to state. However, in most cases, they hold a parent or legal guardian responsible if their child intentionally harmed another person or damaged someone else’s property. In most states, parents are only liable for the malicious acts of minor children, which can be classified differently in each state. Illinois classifies a minor as a child who is between the ages of 11 and 19.

Illinois Parental Responsibility Law

Things Parents May Be Liable for Under Illinois Parental Responsibility Laws

When minor children misbehave and intentionally cause harm or damage to the things around them, their parents may be held responsible for those damages. The actions of the child must be purposeful, meaning that they knew their actions would damage something, but they chose to act anyway. The damages could be to another person, potentially through an assault, or to property through things like vandalism or theft.

Some cases that deal with legal liability, like personal injury, will require the guilty party to pay for actual damage, such as broken property, and may also require them to pay for non-economic damages like pain and suffering or loss of companionship. Unlike these cases, if a claim is brought against a parent for the damage or harm done by their child, the parent will only be liable for actual damages. This includes anything that can be easily measured and given a dollar amount. Some of the damages a parent may need to pay include:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Vandalism removal or repair

While cases involving parental responsibility can be costly, this responsibility does not extend to accidents. If, for example, your child is playing outside with friends and they break a neighbor’s window, you would likely not be liable unless it was clear that they intended to damage the neighbor’s property.

How Parental Responsibility Laws Impact Child Custody

When parents make the decision to end their marriage, there are many decisions and divisions that must be made. One that can be the most difficult to finalize is a child custody agreement. Illinois courts will often determine the ideal child custody agreement, which deals with parenting time as well as legal and medical decision-making, based on the interests of the child. If one parent is more likely to allow, or even encourage, harmful or malicious behavior from their child, then they may lose some parenting time or decision-making rights.


Q: Does Illinois Have Parental Responsibility Laws?

A: Illinois is one of many states that has created parental responsibility laws. These statutes dictate that parents and legal guardians, defined as anyone who has been given custody of a minor by the state, are liable for acts of violence or harm that are intentionally committed by their children. It is also important to note that, according to these laws, a minor is anyone who is at least 11 years old but has not yet turned 19.

Q: What Are Parental Responsibilities in Illinois?

A: The parental responsibility laws in Illinois define what parents and legal guardians are responsible for concerning the misconduct of the children in their care. In most cases, the parent will be held liable if their child causes harm, either with physical violence or through other destructive actions like vandalism. The conduct of the child has to be purposeful, which means that they were fully aware of the damage they were causing.

Q: Can a Child Refuse to See a Parent in Illinois?

A: When child custody arrangements are made, both parents have a right to see their children, and many agreements aim to give equal time to both parents. The feelings of any children involved will often be taken into account when creating a custody agreement, and there are certain circumstances when a child may choose not to see one of their parents. Visitation or custody may also be limited if spending time with that parent is not in the interest of the child. Illinois law does not dictate a specific age when children can choose not to see a parent.

Q: How Long Is a Parent Legally Responsible for a Child in Illinois?

A: In terms of the Illinois parental responsibility laws, a parent is responsible for the misconduct of their minor child. A child is considered a minor from the time they are 11 years old until their 19th birthday. During this period, a parent or legal guardian may be held liable for any harm or damage that is intentionally caused by their child.

Contact Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC

Parenting can be difficult, especially if your child struggles with emotional or behavioral issues. If their behavior gets too out of control, then they risk harming someone with an outburst or getting in trouble for vandalizing someone else’s property. For parents or legal guardians of minors, you may be responsible for damages if your child intentionally caused harm. An accomplished family law attorney can help you understand these laws and how they apply to your family. If you have questions or concerns about parental responsibility laws in Illinois, contact Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC, today.


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