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A Normal Family Relationship of a Parent to a Child

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Parental immunity is the law in Texas. The parental immunity doctrine is designed for the protection of family peace and tranquillity and the parental right to discipline, control and care of children. The courts in Texas have held that to allow litigation between parents and a child would be an adverse, unwarranted intrusion into the family circle. Texas, however, has carved out three exceptions to the parental immunity doctrine. The three are: Parental immunity does not apply when a parent commits a willful, malicious, or intentional wrong against a child or abandons or abdicates his parental responsibility and thereby subjects himself or herself to liability.

Texas does not apply the parental immunity doctrine when the act complained of arises outside of a normal family relationship of a parent to a child, such as a business activity in which the child is the employee and the parent is the employer. The third exception to the parental immunity doctrine allows a child to recover against a negligent parent for damages caused by the negligent parent in operating a motor vehicle. One would have to argue that their cause of action does not fall within any of the three exceptions to the parental immunity doctrine.

Therefore, this salutary doctrine protects the parents of the wayward son portrayed in the fact pattern above. Parental immunity applies with respect to alleged acts of ordinary negligence which involve a reasonable exercise of parental authority or the exercise of ordinary parental discretion. [P]eace, tranquillity and discipline in the home are endowed and inspired by a higher authority than statutory enactments and court decisions. Harmonious family relationships depend on filial and parental love and respect which can neither be created nor preserved by legislatures or courts.

The most we can do is to prevent the judicial system from being used to disrupt the wide sphere of reasonable discretion which is necessary in order for parents to properly exercise their responsibility to provide nurture, care, and discipline for their children.

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