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Top 10 Legal Tips for Dads of All Ages

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on June 15, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Father's Day is a great time to recognize the hard work and abundant rewards of being a father.

But it's also a great time for dads of all ages to take stock of their legal situation and to remember the great responsibility that comes with being a dad.

For this Father's Day, here are our Top 10 legal tips for dads:

  1. Know your paternity leave rights. If you're an expectant dad, make sure you know your rights for taking unpaid, or possibly even paid, paternity leave.
  2. Be aware of the difference between discipline and abuse. Parents are generally afforded leeway when it comes to physically disciplining their children, with laws varying from state to state. However, there is a line when "discipline" turns into child abuse which every dad should be aware of.
  3. Being 'cool dad' can get you arrested. It may be tempting to allow your teenage children and their friends to drink at your house, to better keep an eye on them. But be aware that you can potentially face severe criminal penalties for doing so.
  4. If divorced or living apart from your child's other parent, be a good co-parent. Just because you're divorced (or were never married in the first place) doesn't mean that you and your child's other parent can't work together as co-parents. It just may take a little extra legwork.
  5. If co-parenting, know when you're able to claim your child as a dependent. If you are divorced, knowing when and how you can claim your child as a dependent on your taxes may save you a significant amount of money on your taxes.
  6. Make sure your will is updated. Families and finances are both ever-changing, so be sure to update your will regularly to keep up with changes in your family. In some circumstances, there may even be a few family members you wish to omit.
  7. Your child's trouble could be your own. Every kid gets into some manner of mischief, but keeping close tabs on your children can also keep you out of trouble; parents are generally held liable for injuries and other damages intentionally or negligently caused by their children.
  8. Don't drink and drive -- especially with your kids in the car. Driving under the influence is never a good idea, but getting a DUI with your kids in the car can lead to enhanced penalties and loss of custody.
  9. Don't "forget" your kids in the car. Kids should never be left alone in a car. At best, doing so can lead to criminal charges. At worst, in extreme weather conditions, your child could die.
  10. Make sure your kids go to school. All parents want their kids to be educated, so it's not a bad idea to make sure your kids make it to school and don't play hooky. It could also keep you out of jail.

If you're looking for more ideas, information and tips for dealing with the legal issues in your daily life, be sure to check out our legal planning home page. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

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