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Dave Kennett
Dave Kennett, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  25 years experience as practicing attorney
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Is leaving a 10 year-old and 8 year-old home alone child endangerment?

Resolved Question:

Is leaving a 10 year-old and 8 year-old home alone child endangerment? If so, what is the penalty in Florida?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 5 years ago.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Have charges been filed or are you asking if it is permissible to leave the children alone?

If charges have been file what state statute was used?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
My ex wife has been leaving the kids at home alone while she runs out to do earns. They are home alone for hours at a time and I do not feel comfortable with it. I have spoken to her and attempted to reason, she insists that it not breaking the law. I do not feel comfortable with it.
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 5 years ago.

Dear JACUSTOMER - There's no specific law that says when a child may be left alone or for how long as it always depends on the circumstances. Some things are obvious such as in the case of infants or very small children. As kids grow older they can be left alone for short periods of time but, once again, there are other factors to consider. The safety of the neighborhood, the maturity of the child , the security of the home and the availability of help if something goes wrong. The parent is legally responsible for a minor child until the child reaches the age of 18 but obviously older children are left alone frequently and even provide babysitting services for other small children.

So in order to say it is a crime of child endangerment you would have to show that the children are not capable of being alone for the period of time in question or that there are external factors that would cause them to be in danger. In your case it is certainly questionable due to the ages of the children as to whether being alone is putting them in danger. You have a couple of options. One is to file a motion with the court for a change of custody based on the fact that it would be in the best interests of the children to be with you rather than the mother due to being left alone so often. The other, more serious action you can take is to report this to child protective services and have them investigate the possibility of criminal action for child endangerment. I can't tell you what the possible penalty would be but if the children have not been injured or put in real danger I doubt the mother would go to jail however the children could be removed from the home by CPS and placed with you.

Those are your two options that would get some action by the courts or the authorities. You can argue with her all you want but if she continues to leave your children alone you have no recourse but to take some action with the courts or CPS.

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