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Parental authority: what exactly are its attributes?


Family law

John from Chomedey asks:

We often hear people mentioning the term “parental authority” when speaking about their children. But to what exactly does “parental authority” refer?

“Parental authority,” which used to be referred to as “paternal power,” is a collection of rights and obligations that parents have towards their minor child or children.

In fact, “parental authority” allows parents to exercise their duty as educators and to ensure their children’s development, so that they may grow to be functional adults, capable of living in a society. Compared to its previous terminology (paternal power), parental authority is a parent’s responsibility established for the benefit of their child’s protection, and must be exercised solely in the child’s best interest (as opposed to “paternal power,” which referred to a father’s rights over his child.)

Hence, section 599 of the Québec Civil Code refers to rather important attributes, and stipulates:

‘The father and mother have the rights and duties of custody, supervision and education of their children.
They shall maintain their children’.

Parents’ Rights and Obligations Towards Their Children


More specifically, the child must live with the parents, who must welcome his or her stay until he or she is an adult (or until he or she is emancipated.)


Parents must watch over their child to ensure his or her safety, and avoid any damage the child may cause to others.


Parents must instruct and convey to their child a moral and civic education, in order for their child to grow up to be an upstanding citizen


Finally, parents must satisfy the material needs of their child, which means feeding, clothing, housing and caring for them. This implies that a parent will develop a certain approach with the child, and this approach will be oriented to developing an emotional bond with the child.

Me Sonia Rotondo, Attorney-at-Law
Alepin Gauthier Avocats Inc.

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