Parens patriae means "parent of the nation." Under this legal doctrine the state may intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, or temporary caretaker, and act in the best interest of the child in need of protection.
Parens patriae intervention is often contrary to the expressed wishes of the natural parent, and permanent.
State governments may not override parental decisions or terminate custody, unless the parents voluntarily delegate their authority to the state, or the state demonstrates through appropriate due process that there is clear and convincing evidence that the parents have triggered state parens patriae interests by placing their children in clear and present danger. Procedural due process is required for the parents and child.