No valid agreement exists if the arbitration clause is unenforceable on public policy grounds. Thus, the issue in this case concerns competing interests: that of the state to protect children and that of parents in raising their children. Where these interests clash on a concrete issue such as the enforceability of a contract entered into on behalf of a minor child, the issue becomes one for the courts.
C. PARENTS AND THE STATE AS GUARDIANS OF MINORS’ LITIGATION RIGHTS
In this case, the trial court based its enforcement of the arbitration agreement on the “well established principle that parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody and management of their offspring.” The Fourth District, while acknowledging that Florida law recognizes parental authority to contract for their children to obtain medical care, nonetheless rejected “the notion that parents may, carte blanche, waive the litigation rights of their children in the absence of circumstances supported by public policy.”… Thus, the issue as framed by the decisions in the circuit and district courts is whether the state, through the courts and for reasons of public policy, can override a parent’s right to make this decision by refusing to enforce its consequences.
1. PARENTAL AUTHORITY
Parental authority over decisions involving their minor children derives from the liberty interest contained in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the guarantee of privacy in article I, section 23 of the Florida Constitution.