Category: Guardianship Over Minors

Guardianship Over Minors, Young Adults , , , , , , , ,

Social Host Liability: Learn the Laws Before Thinking about Serving to Minors

When throwing a graduation party many parents say the same thing when it comes to drinking:

“The kids are going to drink anyway, so why don’t we provide a place in our home for them where they can be supervised?”

In response, we have found a few pieces of information to think about as well as the laws in Massachusetts.

  1. While parents who adopt this approach think they will be able to supervise a teenage party with alcohol, they cannot predict situations that may develop if a minor has been drinking.
  2. Good intentions aside, this approach may subject both parents and child to criminal penalties and civil liability.
  3. If teenage alcohol consumption has taken place at a supervised party, and the teenagers have left the home, the “social host’s” responsibility does not end.

The following are penalties one may face if they choose to host a party and/or provide alcohol for minors.

Contributing to the delinquency of minor.
Penalty: Max. 1 yr in prison; $500 fine or both.
Sale, delivery, furnishing alcohol to person under 21 years old.
Penalty: Max. 1 yr in prison, max. $2,000 fine; or both

Common Questions:

Can I be sued if my child or a teenage guest at my home drinks alcohol and harms another person?

Yes. Under the principle of social host liability, you can be held financially responsible if your guest harms or kills another person after having consumed alcohol at your home.

Why should I be liable for the criminal or negligent acts of my guests? If my guest kills or injures someone in a drunk driving accident after drinking in my home, why should that be my problem?

If your guest was under age 21 and you allowed him to consume alcohol, you committed a crime. Violation of a criminal statute is powerful evidence that you were negligent. There is no good reason to allow anyone under 21 to drink alcohol. If your guest was an adult who was visibly impaired, you were negligent if you permitted him to drink alcohol at your home. There is no good reason to serve any impaired guest more alcohol.

For more information about the Social Host Liability Law’s and how to protect your children, visit our website at call us at 508-998-0800 or email Andrew Garcia at [email protected].

Massachusetts also provides this great brochure with very important information on this topic.

Guardianship Over Minors

Choosing a Guardian? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

When it comes to the general well-being of my young daughter, I worry about the same things that every other typical parent worries about: Is she doing well in school? Is she eating right? What kinds of friends is she making? Am I letting her watch too much t.v.?

Occasionally, though, I wonder about one of the scariest things that a parent can worry about: what would happen to my daughter if both me and her mother were gone? Who would care for her? Who would protect her? Who would raise her?

Choosing the proper guardian for your children is one of the most important things that a responsible parent can do. Here are 5 questions that you should ask yourself to make the choice a little easier:

What is Your Guardian’s Parenting Style? – Most of us have probably heard of the popular television program called “Wife Swap,” where the producers take two moms from drastically different families and plop them into each other’s homes for a week. During the first half of the week the visiting mom must live by the “house rules,” and then in the second half she gets to introduce her rules. In most instances what happens is a culture clash of epic proportions.

To avoid putting your kids at risk of living through one of these epic clashes, try to think of people whose parenting styles and values most closely resemble yours. Consider their attitudes about discipline, religion and education. What are their feelings about work, entertainment and leisure? Seriously consider their social and moral habits and whether they jibe with yours.

Where Does the Guardian Live? – Where your prospective guardian lives can also have a drastic effect on the future well-being of your child. If something were to happen to you, would choosing that guardian cause your child to be moved across state lines or even across the country? Or, is the guardian located nearby to your kids, their schools, their friends and their relatives. Remember, if you’re gone, your children will already be struggling with the grief of losing you. If your guardian lives far away from you, then you need to consider how much more drastically your child’s life will change if he or she is forced to move far away from familiar surroundings.

Are You Choosing an Individual or Married Couple? – If you are thinking about choosing a couple to serve as guardians, then be sure to consider your choice in the event that couple ever ends up separated or divorced, or if one of them dies. You may think that the choice of your sister and brother-in-law as guardians is great. But, what if your sister dies? Would you want your brother-in-law to be the sole guardian of your child? If that is not what you would want, be sure to create a contingency plan for an alternate guardian.

What is the Age and Health of the Guardian? – While there is little doubt that your child’s grandparent may love your child with all of their heart, age usually comes with restrictions. Is your choice of guardian physically well enough to take on the demands of raising your children? Do they have the energy and emotional wherewithal to raise young children? Be sure that whomever you choose to serve as guardian is healthy enough to raise them.

Does the Potential Guardian Sincerely Care About Your Child? – Does your choice of guardian genuinely care about your child’s welfare? Your guardian will be making choices that will seriously affect your child’s emotional, social, physical, spiritual and financial well-being for the rest of his or her life. Not only will a responsible parent ensure that their guardian choice shares similar values, but also that their choice truly cares about their children. And, on the flip side, ask yourself whether your child likes that person too.


Andrew Garcia, Family Legal Planning Attorney

Don't leave your loved ones with a financial mess. Get some Family Legal Planning in place before it's too late.

Choosing a guardian is an important part of being a responsible parent. Yet, deciding on a potential guardian can feel like a daunting task. Our Family Legal Planning system was designed to help choosing a guardian a little easier.  To schedule your complimentary Family Legal Planning session contact us now or call Attorney Andrew Garcia at (508) 998-0800.



Guardianship Over Minors

Aren’t My Child’s Godparents Automatically the Guardians?

In Massachusetts, the term “godparent” is a religious designation, not a legal designation for guardians. To ensure that the people you want to serve as guardians of your minor children are appointed after you are gone, you must have a legal guardianship plan in place. For more information about appointing guardians for your minor children, contact Andrew Garcia at (508) 998-0800 or at [email protected]