PATERNAL POWER. Patria potestas, The, authority lawfully exercised by parents, over their children. It will be proper to consider, 1. Who are entitled to exercise this power. 2. Who are subject to it. 3. The extent of this power.
2. - 1. As a general rule the father is entitled to exert the paternal power over his children. But for certain reasons, when the father acts improperly, and against the interest of those over whom nature and the law have given him authority, he loses his power over them. It being a rule that whenever the good of the child requires it, the courts will deliver the custody of the children to others than the father. And numerous instances may be found where, for good reasons, the custody will be given to the mother.
4. - 2. All persous are subject to this power until they arrive at the full age of twenty-one years. A father may, however, to, a certain extent, deprive himself of this unlimited paternal power, first, by delegating it to others, as when he binds his son an apprentice; and, secondly, when he abandons his children, and permits them to act for themselves. 2 Verm. Cas. 290; 2 Watts, 408 4 S. & R. 207; 4 Mass. 675.
5. - 3. The principle upon which the law is, founded as to the extent of paternal power is, that it be exerted for the benefit of the child. The child is subject to the lawful commands of the father to attend to his business, because by being so subjected he acquires that discipline and the practice of attending to business, which will be useful to him in after life. He is liable to proper correction for the same reason. 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 326-33. See Correction; Father; Mother; Parent.