If a child causes damage to another person or property, the parents may be liable for damages. Some states, for example, have statutes that make parents liable for vandalism caused by their children up to a certain dollar amount, such as $500 or $1,000. If a child is severely out of control, the state may take custody of a child.
If a child has an auto accident while driving a parent’s car, the parent’s auto insurance policy generally will cover the loss to the same extent it would if the parent had been driving the car (although parents usually have to pay higher insurance premiums to cover young drivers).
Parents are legally responsible for their children until they reach the age of majority (usually eighteen), marry, or leave home to support themselves. In some states, divorced parents may be obliged to pay for a child’s college education or trade school. (In addition, a parent’s duty to support a disabled child might continue for the child’s entire life.