Parens Patriae Legal Meaning and Definition

Here is a simplified definition of the legal term Parens Patriae.

Parens Patriae (noun)

A Latin term meaning "parent of the country," Parens Patriae refers to the power of the state or government to act as guardian for those who are unable to care for themselves legally, such as children or individuals with mental illnesses. This doctrine is often applied in cases such as child custody disputes, where the court determines the child's best interests until they reach the age of 18.