University of Illinois System

In loco parentis

In loco parentis refers to a relationship in which a person puts him/herself in the situation of a parent by assuming and discharging the obligations of a parent to a child.  The in loco parentis relationship exists when an individual intends to take on the role of a parent to a child who is under 18 or 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability. Although no legal or biological relationship is necessary, grandparents or other relatives, such as siblings, may stand in loco parentis to a child under the FMLA as long as the relative satisfies the in loco parentis requirements.  The fact that a child has a biological parent in the home, or has both a mother and a father, does not prevent an employee from standing in loco parentis to that child. The FMLA does not restrict the number of parents a child may have. The specific facts of each situation will determine whether an employee stands in loco parentis to a child. 

Under the FMLA, persons who are in loco parentis include those with day-to-day responsibilities to care for or financially support a child. Courts have indicated some factors to be considered in determining in loco parentis status include:

  • the age of the child;
  • the degree to which the child is dependent on the person;
  • the amount of financial support, if any, provided; and
  • the extent to which duties commonly associated with parenthood are exercised. 

View the U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheets for additional information.

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