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Parents Have Few Legal Rights Once a Child Turns 18


You stand in the driveway waving, watching your child back out of the driveway. The car is loaded up with books, bedding, clothes, food, a computer, non-perishable food, and a box of cleaning supplies that you know will never get used. With a quick wave out the window, your baby drives off down the street. They are leaving the nest and embarking on the next exciting phase of their life. It seems like only last week, they were just little children. You nurtured them and protected them. Now, they are all grown up and heading off to college. As you watch them drive away, you hope that you have given them a good foundation. You hope you have taught them how to make better choices than their peers. You pray for their safety and well-being. legal rights for teens

Under the law, once a person turns 18, they are no longer considered a child. That means you no longer have the legal right to access their health care, school or banking records without their permission. So, just in case, and to ensure their safety and your peace of mind, talk to your teen about an an Advanced Health Care Directive. It is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves due to illness or incapacity.

Once your child is officially an adult, they need to complete an Advanced Health Care Directive that will allow you to access their medical records and make medical decisions for them in the event that something happens and they can’t. This is essential in case of an emergency. They will also need to sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form that allows medical professionals to share information with you. To help you get started, we are sharing suggested form, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, offered by the Florida Bar and the Florida Medical Association with you on our website. Be sure to have the document witnessed by two people who are neither a blood relative nor the person designated as the health care surrogate.

If you have any concerns about this or any other methods for protecting your family, please contact our office at (727) 537-6818 or to schedule a time for us to identify the best ways to ensure the security of your loved ones. Come in before the end of summer and we will waive our $750 planning fee PLUS create a free healthcare directive for your young adult child. This way, you can have some peace of mind while your child begins their journey into adulthood.