What Are My Legal Rights As a Parent With My 17 Year Old Son?

By Maria Lassen - Updated May 31, 2017
Father and son football training

As a parent, you are legally responsible for the care and upbringing of your child until he reaches the age of majority. In most states, a child is not considered a legal adult until he reaches the age of 18. Therefore, if you have a son who is 17 years old, you may still exercise your parental rights and decision making until he reaches the age of 18, he is emancipated or your rights are terminated by a court of law.

Care and Control

Not only are you emotionally and financially responsible for your son, but you also have control over many aspects of his life. It is your decision where he goes to school, who he is allowed to socialize with and who he will live with. Until he is 18, you also have the right to decide what religion he follows and the church he attends. If he is working, you have the right to control his finances as well.

Medical Treatment

You are also responsible for your son’s medical treatment. You have the right to choose what medical treatments your son should or should not receive. Although some religions do not believe in certain medical treatments, a court can override your decision not to treat your son if the court finds that the denial of treatment would be life threatening. There are also some states that allow a 17 year old to receive medical treatment without his parents' permission such as treatment for sexually transmitted diseases or mental health.


Although your son is 17, if he is disobedient, you still have a right to punish him accordingly. However, there is a difference between punishment and child abuse; for instance, grounding him because he stayed out after curfew as opposed to getting physically violent. If he refuses to follow your rules and is dangerously out of control, you have the option to call the authorities. However, this could result in your son possibly having a criminal record as a juvenile.


Unless your son has reached the age of 18 or has been emancipated, your parental rights remain intact. Emancipation is when a child under the age of 18 legally becomes an adult. Depending on the laws in your state, this can happen if your child petitioned the court requesting emancipation, if he got married or if he joined the armed forces. If your 17 year old son were emancipated, he would be considered an adult, and you would no longer be able to exercise your rights as a parent.

About the Author

Maria Lassen has many years experience in the legal field. She was a practicing hair and nail technician for 10 years and has been a freelance writer since 2010. Lassen studied creative writing at Bowling Green State University and holds a certificate in paralegal studies.

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