When Can You Leave a Child Home Alone?
You just need to run out to the store for 15 minutes to grab a gallon of milk. Your 8-year-old is happily engrossed in his favorite show and will throw a fit if you tell him he has to go. Can you go shop and leave him by himself for a few minutes or would that be breaking the law?
Many people wonder whether there’s a legal minimum age for children to stay home by themselves. The answer may surprise you.
Delaware does not have a law concerning the age a child can legally stay home alone. Because there is nothing in the books, the state Division of Family Services may investigate any reports of kids under age 12 staying home by themselves. With the presence of extenuating circumstances, such as physical disabilities, DFS may even look into the case of a child over 12.
At What Age Can You Leave a Child At Home?
Since there’s no official guidance on the appropriate age to stay home alone, it’s up to the family to make that decision. You should consider many factors, such as:
- The child’s maturity level
- How far from home you will be
- The safety of your home
- The safety of your neighborhood
You should also make sure your child is prepared in the event something unexpected happens or they need help. Talk to them about what to do if someone comes to the door and whether they’re allowed to use the oven or stove. Make sure they know simple safety procedures and have access to a phone in case of an emergency since many homes now lack landlines.
Still Not Sure Whether to Leave Your Child Alone? Talk to a Family Law Attorney in Delaware
When it comes to your kids, you never want to put them in danger or make a decision that could hurt your relationship with them. If you continue to feel uncertain about leaving your child alone, contact one of our family law attorneys at Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya. We can advise you on this matter.