Many parents struggle with the question of what age their children should be before they can be left home alone. The question can be especially important for parents who are going through custody proceedings. A common complaint among many parents is that the other is irresponsibly leaving a young child at home alone. In the worst case scenario, a child may get injured if left at home alone, fueling accusations of neglect. This is some guidance for how courts in Greenville, SC might view this issue.
Some states have explicit laws that say how young is too young to leave a child at home. South Carolina does not. However, there is non-binding, unofficial guidance from the state setting the minimum age at 8 years. That’s a good rule of thumb for any parent in Greenville, SC to follow.
No matter how old a child is, if he or she is left home alone, there could be trouble. Your house may be relatively safe for an adult or an older child. But if your child is hurt, the Department of Social Services may investigate. And if you’re in a custody fight with the other parent, you can expect it to come up in court. Always let an experienced Greenville, SC child custody attorney help with any such issues.
Failure to provide adequate supervision of your child is considered neglect. If your child gets hold of an unguarded handgun, you could be facing criminal charges. It goes without saying that either of these makes your custody case look back before a Greenville judge. It’s far better to have a day care or babysitter look after your son or daughter.
Your child should be able to do at least the following before being left at home alone:
- Prepare a meal for him- or herself without getting hurt, sick, or leaving the stove or oven turned on
- Remember to turn off faucets, put food and beverages away, and close the refrigerator door
- Call 911 and another responsible person in the event of an emergency
- Lock and unlock the front and back doors
- Use the family’s first aid kit
- Know what to do if someone calls or comes to the door
- Care for any pets in the home
- Get along with any siblings who may also be at home
Of course, if you have a prior child custody order, there may be terms in it that settle the matter. You should also check with the child directly to determine his or her comfort level with being home alone.
Greenville, SC parents sometimes worry what the other parent will think about leaving the child at home. But most parents have legitimate reasons for doing so. Parents are also concerned what may happen to their custody rights if they have a caregiver look after the child instead. If one parent relies upon a babysitter, the other could use it to argue for more time. After all, it would be preferable for the child to spend more time with a parent than someone else.
A child staying home alone can certainly present challenges to any custody case. You will want to approach the question with an eye towards what could happen in court. Working with your Greenville, SC custody attorney, you can make an intelligent decision of what is best for your child.
We’re Here to Help Navigate the Complexities of Your Custody Case
Every family is different, and for many parents, leaving a child at home alone is workable. Other children should not be left home alone until they are much older. It is best to discuss these issues with a Greenville, SC child custody attorney before making a decision. The attorneys of Greenville Family Law can help. Schedule a consultation with us today about any custody case you are facing.