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Can My Hands-Off Approach to Parenting Be Considered Neglect in Texas?

 Posted on January 15, 2021 in Criminal Defense

Collin County criminal defense attorney child neglect

You may think that there is a clear line between child neglect and a more laissez-faire approach to parenting. When you imagine parents being charged with neglect and abandonment, you picture a child at home alone for days, struggling to care for himself or herself. The parents that you might picture in your head are risking their child’s safety to sustain their substance addiction. While this is, unfortunately, a common reality for those facing child neglect charges in Texas, others may be facing such charges based on their hands-off approach to caring for their child. Also known as “free-range parenting,” there is debate about whether or not this relaxed parenting style makes children more independent or places kids in harm’s way.

Free-Range Parenting Explained

In 2018, Utah passed a law that addressed different parenting styles and set a line for what is considered free-range parenting and what is considered neglect and abandonment. In the age of smartphones, parents have constant contact with their children, either through text message updates or actually tracking their child’s location. Many argue that this is a blessing and allows parents to fully protect their children in a way that was unavailable to previous generations. Others, however, believe that this constant contact and watchfulness can stunt kids’ individuality and ability to navigate the world on their own. Advocate Lenore Skenazy started the movement almost a decade ago after she allowed her 9-year-old son to ride the New York City subway by himself. Since then, Utah passed the country’s first law to legalize this form of parenting to give children the freedom to do things on their own, with their parents’ permission. This includes activities such as exploring a playground, riding a bike to school, or allowing your child to remain home alone at a young age without a parent’s supervision. Some view this type of parenting as a nod to “the olden days” while others see it as the failure to protect your child. Texas does not have such a law in place, leaving some of these more radically viewed parental decisions up to the court’s discretion.

What Is Considered Neglect?

Texas legislation outlines what the state considers to be child neglect, although reading the details of the law reveals how easily free-range parenting choices can be skewed to be viewed as neglect. According to Texas law, the following is considered neglect:

  • Leaving a child in a situation where he or she is exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intent not to return home by a parent or guardian

  • Failure to remove a child from situations in which a reasonable person would recognize required actions or judgment beyond the child’s physical condition, maturity, or mental capabilities and that results in injury or risk of harm

  • Failure to seek proper medical care for a child with this failure resulting in disfigurement, risk of death, or physical injury

  • Failure to remove a child from a situation in which he or she faces the risk of sexual conduct harmful to the child

  • Allowing the child to return to his or her home without arranging the necessary care for the child

If found guilty, these acts are considered a state jail felony if the parent intended to return to the child and a third-degree felony if he or she did not intend to return. If the neglect or abandonment leaves the child in imminent danger of injury or death, the charge is a second-degree felony, which carries up to 20 years of imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.

Contact a Collin County Neglect and Abandonment Attorney

Accusations of neglect or abandonment can not only ruin your reputation, but also leave you with the risk of losing your kids, facing time in prison, and being slapped with significant fines. While those neglecting or abandoning their children should be dealt with in a serious manner, everyone deserves a fair trial regardless of the accusations against them. The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. understands how detrimental neglect and abandonment charges can be on you and your family, and we work tirelessly to defend you and your parenting decisions. If you are facing such charges, contact our reputable Plano, Texas child neglect and abandonment lawyers at 214-303-9600 to discuss the details of your case in your free initial consultation.






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