parent and child

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parent and child,

legal relationship, created by biological (birth) relationship or by adoptionadoption,
act by which the legal relation of parent and child is created. Adoption was recognized by Roman law but not by common law. Statutes first introduced adoption into U.S. law in the mid-19th cent.
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, that confers certain rights and duties on parent and child; in some states the courts have given the nonbiological, nonadoptive partner of a parent standing as a parent in a legal context. Parents are ordinarily obliged to support the child (to provide "necessaries"), and they have the right to his or her custody and control. The father's right was long superior, but courts today, in custody disputes, favor either the father or the mother, whichever is deemed better suited to rear the child. In case of divorcedivorce,
partial or total dissolution of a marriage by the judgment of a court. Partial dissolution is a divorce "from bed and board," a decree of judicial separation, leaving the parties officially married while forbidding cohabitation.
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, custody may be granted to either parent or divided between them. Although courts are reluctant to intervene in family matters, custody may be awarded to other persons or to an institution when neither parent is held fit to perform the duties of parenthood (see guardian and wardguardian and ward,
in law. A guardian is someone who by appointment or by relationship has the care of a person or that person's property, or both. The protected individual, known as the ward, is considered legally incapable of acting for himself or herself; examples are a child
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). The mother of an illegitimate child has the right to its custody; the father usually must contribute to support; legitimationlegitimation,
act of giving the status of legitimacy to a child whose parents were not married at the time the child was born. This is generally accomplished by the subsequent marriage of the parents.
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 occurs when the parents of an illegitimate child marry. Whoever has the lawful custody of a child has the right to control and punish him or her, so long as the means used are not excessive. In some cases when the income of a child is substantial, current earnings can be held in trust until the child reaches adulthood. Emancipation is the dissolution of the parent-child relationship. It may occur if the parents abandon the child, or at the parents' option (but usually not before the child is 18 years old), or when the child marries or attains majority. For the sociological and psychological aspects of the relationship, see familyfamily,
a basic unit of social structure, the exact definition of which can vary greatly from time to time and from culture to culture. How a society defines family as a primary group, and the functions it asks families to perform, are by no means constant.
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