When you start a family, you’re unlikely to be giving much thought to the law and what rights and responsibilities you have as a parent. You’re told by your healthcare team that you have to register the birth by law, but beyond that the topic of the legal implications of having a child scarcely come up.
As a rule, this isn’t a problem. As long as you’re fulfilling your responsibilities, caring for your child, making sure they go to school and so on, you’re unlikely to need to get involved in any legal discussions. The problem usually arises when you encounter an issue where you assume you have certain rights, and someone else is telling you that you don’t. Examples that crop up quite often would be:
- The age at which you can leave a child alone
- Whether you can take a child on holiday during school term
- What age a child should be allowed out on their own
Most parents assume that their ideas about what’s best for their child are all that matters, but very often these issues do have laws that cover what you can and can’t do.
However, the law is notoriously complex, and you could well find it hard to get to the truth of where you stand. Websites may contain information that’s out of date, the article may have been posted by someone who isn’t a legal expert, or you might find it hard to understand the intricacies of the laws you’re checking up on.
Seeking advice from a solicitor can be an expensive process that might seem excessive for the type of problem you’re experiencing, but there are other options. Charitable organizations like Citizen’s Advice can help with certain situations, or you might find that you have access to a free legal helpline if you belong to certain organizations or membership schemes.
Understanding when to get legal help
There may be an occasion that will require you to seek legal advice regarding your child. This could include an incident or accident that your child was involved in. If this is the case understanding your options and being confident in the knowledge that there is help available is half the battle.
Solicitors often run clinics and offer the initial consultation for free, so that could be a good way of getting a better idea of where you stand in more serious situations, and in certain circumstances you should definitely seek legal advice. For example, if you believe your child was harmed as a result of negligence by NHS staff, you won’t know whether you have a right to compensation for the damage done. In this case you should contact a specialist legal firm like The Medical Negligence Experts, who can advise you whether you have a case that’s worth pursuing.
It’s not realistic to expect people to be conversant with every aspect of the law they may encounter, so don’t worry too much. The important point is that it helps a great deal if you know where to turn if any legal issues should arise.