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Stanton v. Stanton

Parental Responsibility

When an adult commits a crime, or causes damage to property that belongs to someone else, that adult is held legally liable; but when a child is the responsible party, the question of liability is more involved.

Most states have some sort of law governing the degree of a parent's financial responsibility for damage done by his or her child. Oregon and Louisiana have the most stringent laws, holding parents liable for damage caused by a child in any type of circumstance, whether such damage was willful and malicious or not.

Eight states have particularly liberal laws, at least from the standpoint of parental liability. In Oklahoma, Iowa, West Virginia, and Maryland, parents are liable only if a child commits a crime involving malicious or willful property damage, or personal injury. Florida, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York are even more permissive: in those four states, the standard is malicious or willful criminal activity involving property damage (without the inclusion of incidents involving personal injury).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Stanton v. Stanton - Significance, Challenging "old Notions", Dissent And A Postscript, Impact, Parental Responsibility, Further Readings