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Pregnant 16 yr old, living outside the home and liability for damages caused by minor

East Palo Alto, CA |

My husband wants a divorce because he fears legal responsibility for any damages my daughter may cause. She is presently pregnant and in teen housing through San Mateo county (for pregnant teens) He threw her out of the house for an incident where she verbally threatened him in the height of an argument. She has no record through the courts. She has never done bodily harm, has put 2 holes in a door here. I feel he's exaggerating his fear. How can I legally protect our assets if in case my daughter does cause damage/liability?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Both you and your husband are legally responsible for your daughter's actions until she either turns 18 or is emancipated by the court. Kicking her out of the house doesn't help, it hurts, because she is more likely to get into trouble out of the house and who will pay for it? You and your husband will.

Getting a divorce doesn't help either, because you would still each be liable for any harm that she causes to third parties.

Have you tried family counseling. I highly recommend it.

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.

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4 comments

Asker

Posted

We have tried counseling and I absolutely agree with you. He is her step-father and hasnt legally adopted her. Weve been together for ten years. Are you saying that even WITH divorce he would still be liable? If thats the case I have something to work with at least. Im trying to get her home. Its up to him (and her) not to cause a fiasco

Asker

Posted

His biggest concern is if she causes damage that could cause loss of house, property, et al. He believes divorce will exempt him from that blow. Ill be liable, but will he. I know he'd have support. I dont think he's thought this through or sought advice appropriately. He's feared because at 60 his hope is he doesnt lose everything hes worked for because of damages incurred by daughter

Asker

Posted

by support, I mean I realize he'd have to pay support

David Alexander Yomtov

David Alexander Yomtov

Posted

I take back what I said earlier about your husband's liability. You did not originally mention that she was not your husband's daughter, as well. That changes things a bit, at least for him. I'm also adding a link to Immigration Law for you, due to your last comment to Ms. Farley.

Posted

If you think your husband is exaggerating his fear, he probably is. You say that your daughter has no record, has never hurt anyone, and she is pregnant. Are you sure throwing her out is what you want?

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6 comments

Asker

Posted

Hi Erin, thankyou for the response. NO, not what I want but they both are like 2 year olds. It escalated to where the police were called and she was taken away on a 51/50. Not the first time (she's a cutter). Theres certainly more to the story but not anything (to me) that would indicate she'd do something to endanger my financial state through being sued because she did something outrageous. I dont force the issue for her coming back because a) I dont know what legal ramifications Ill face from my husband and B) They are like gas and fire...one of them is going to ignite. It would be a fiasco. Im trying to get some counselling so they can at the very least communicate, but that sounds weak at best. He wants this divorce so hes not liable..Im getting tired. Its so much plus Im trying to run a small business..

David Alexander Yomtov

David Alexander Yomtov

Posted

If you get a divorce and she lives with you, then perhaps the conflict will abate. But your husband will still be financially liable for your daughter (and grandchild) for a couple of years, including possibly child support. And then there's the possibility of his owing you spousal support if you're separating. Counseling may sound lame, and with regard to your husband and daughter's relationship it may seem hopeless, but at the very least you two could use some couple's counseling.

Erin Patricia Farley

Erin Patricia Farley

Posted

It sounds to me like you are being put in the middle and forced to choose between your child and your husband. In my experience, I've not known a good man who put a woman in that position. Children have the right the right to act like two year-olds, adults do not. Follow your gut on this.

Asker

Posted

Yes, Im between but what I need to know is whether I can remain in the home if divorce occurs and will my daughter's actions, if illegal and liable, have a monetary impact on my husband. He didnt legally adopt her. We're also landed immigrants from Canada, not yet citizens, married 5 years. Can this impact that?

Erin Patricia Farley

Erin Patricia Farley

Posted

Without the facts, there is no way to answer your question about the home. All I can say is that it depends on whatever agreement you and your husband work out. If you two are separated, and your husband is not her dad, then he is not liable for your daughter. Consult with an immigration attorney to determine liability on the immigration issue. My advice is to take care of your daughter: she is hurting and she is vulnerable - your actions right now could determine whether or not you will have a lifelong relationship with your child.

Asker

Posted

There is no prenup. We moved into the home together. The deed is in his name. We've been together 10 years. Bringing her back in the home could become volatile without a pre-agreed structure. She will have housing in appropriate maternity home nearby until appropriate and safe changes can be made. On another note; I see my daughter daily and speak with her up to 4 times daily. My relationship with her is not at risk

Posted

I note that you said the daughter is your daughter. If he is not the father and hasn't adopted her he may not be responsible for her actions. To find out the answer to this consutl with local attorney experienced in this area of law.

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Asker

Posted

Yes, but in California, in the case of me being liable for her actions and me owning half of 'everything' would it not effect him too...If they come after the house because I own half of it, it would certainly mean a ripple effect for him

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