family & personal matters

paternity suit

A lawsuit to determine the identity of the father of a child born outside of marriage. A paternity suit may be brought either by the mother or by the father himself if the mother is denying his paternity, and is usually proved by genetic testing. Once paternity is established, the father has all the rights and obligations of parenthood, including the duty to support the child and the right to petition for custody or visitation.

parental neglect

A crime consisting of acts or omissions of a parent (including a stepparent, adoptive parent, or someone who, in practical terms, serves in a parent's role) which endangers the health and life of a child or fails to take steps necessary to the proper raising of a child. The neglect can include leaving a child alone when he or she needs protection, failure to provide food, clothing, medical attention, or education to a child, or placing the child in dangerous or harmful circumstances, including exposing the child to a violent, abusive, or sexually predatory person.

Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA)

A federal law that seeks to control and prevent parental kidnapping by requiring states to ensure parents are in compliance with the terms of the PKPA before the court will make a custody order, and to refuse to enforce child custody orders made in another state when the parent obtaining the order did not have legal custody of the child.

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