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Top 5 Legal Tips for New Dads

By Betty Wang, JD on June 13, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Being a new dad isn't easy, but keeping a few legal tips in mind can help make life easier for you, your little one, and your growing family.

With Father's Day just around the corner, and summer being the peak time for births, there will definitely be many an occasion to celebrate all the new dads out there, and their beautiful babies, of course.

So while new dads may be overwhelmed trying to figure out the whole diaper situation, they should also be aware of some potential legal pitfalls of fatherhood that can get beyond messy, if they aren't too careful. Here are our Top 5 legal tips for new dads:

  1. Don't leave your kids in hot cars. Actually, don't leave your kids unattended in cars, period. This is especially something to keep in mind as the weather gets warmer. Leaving your child in a hot car isn't only incredibly dangerous, but it's also illegal. Regardless of your intent, you could face felony neglect or endangerment charges.
  2. Be careful about corporal punishment. While the law allows certain forms of physical punishment on children, they are very limiting. In general, state laws, while they vary, will allow spanking as long as a "reasonable" amount of force is used. Going too far, however, can get you arrested.
  3. Avoid DUIs with kids in your car. Not only are DUIs in general are incredibly dangerous and illegal, but a DUI with kids in your car is a whole different story. Many states impose harsher penalties for DUIs when children under a certain age are along for the ride. Some states even make it a felony to drive while intoxicated with children as passengers. It should go without saying, though, that driving under the influence should always, always be avoided.
  4. Keep an eye on kids, especially teenagers. Ah, the talk-backs, the attitudes, the experimental wardrobe. There's so much about parenting to look forward to as your kid gets older. Not only will you get lip service, however, but you may also be held liable for their actions. This includes a whole slew of things, even liability for your drunken teen (and even her friends) if there's underage drinking going on in your home. So make sure to keep a close eye on your children, no matter how much they (will) protest.
  5. Know where to turn for legal help. Feeling unsettled after reading all these tips? Wish you could call up a lawyer whenever you want, to bug him with questions? You may want to consider an affordable legal plan for you and your family. Think of it as "legal insurance." One option, called LegalStreet, gives you unlimited on-call access to local attorneys who can help answer questions about whatever legal situation you or your child are involved in. LegalStreet plans start at less than $13 a month, and also include an attorney-drafted will and legal document reviews.

(Disclosure: LegalStreet and are owned by the same company.)

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