What Types of Lawyers Can Help Children?
While most people may associate legal issues with adults, legal issues can also impact children. On the one hand, children can be the victims of various types of violations and crimes. On the other hand, children can sometimes also be implicated as defendants in certain situations. Thus, lawyers may sometimes need to provide legal services for children as well as adults.
Some legal issues that may commonly impact children can include:
- Custody and Visitation: Child custody and visitation laws directly impact children. The outcome of a custody hearing will determine when and how a child may be able to spend time with their parents. This is an especially important issue with regard to custody of children with special needs, such as autism. Even decisions that affect mainly the parents can still affect the children (such as a prenuptial agreement or separation agreement);
- Criminal Law: Children can often be found guilty of criminal violations. These will depend largely on the type of crime as well as state laws. Most of the time, children may be charged under juvenile laws;
- Emancipation: Issues like emancipation and termination of a guardianship arrangement also directly impact children. These types of actions may provide more freedom for a child or minor, but can also mean more responsibilities and legal liability for them; and
- School Issues: Most children spend a majority of their time at school. Legal issues can arise with regard to school, including issues like bullying, discrimination, harassment, and other types of challenges.
Can Children be Held Liable for Their Actions?
In many cases, courts will hold a parent liable for the acts of their children. This depends on several factors, including what type of violation is involved and how involved the parent may have been in that situation.
In other cases, courts may hold a child or minor directly liable for their actions. These typically involve relatively minor incidents. Consequences for these may include light punishments such as community service or other remedies. In more serious instances, detention in a juvenile facility may result.
Some common situations involving children may include:
- Pranks and minor accidents;
- Car accidents or property damage caused by children driving their parent’s car without a license;
- Vandalism; and
- Minor theft.
In certain circumstances, a child or minor may even be prosecuted and tried as if they were an adult. These are relatively rare cases, and depend on several factors, including the child’s ability to form opinions and decisions on their own, and the seriousness of the crime involved. Likewise, children can sometimes be sued for injuries that they caused.
Are there Any Legal Tools to Help Children?
Many people may not know that there are various legal tools that can be of benefit to children. These can range from various laws and legal processes, to financial options that are advantageous for children. Some of these include:
- Guardianship arrangements (useful in cases where the child’s parents are not available to care for them);
- Special needs trusts and spendthrift trusts for children;
- Judicial meetings with children (these can help provide children with some clarity during a divorce process, especially for older children); and
- Various governmental assistance programs, such as supplemental security income for children (SSI).
What are Some Other Legal Issues that Impact Children?
Besides these, many other legal issues may affect children. Some of these may not deal directly with children, but they can still impact them and may be important to consider with regard to a legal claim. These include:
- Cases involving injuries to children (such as product liability and defective product claims, common with children’s toys and products);
- Situations involving property left to children (i.e., inheritance laws);
- Immigration issues, especially illegal immigration consequences;
- Online privacy protection of children; and
- Various other legal issues, conflicts, and disputes.
Lastly, some legal issues involving children depend greatly on the children involved. Whenever dealing with children, courts will take different factors into account, including the child’s age, education, medical history or background, mental and emotional capacity, and their relationship with their parents or guardians.
Do I Need a Children’s Lawyer?
Legal issues with children are serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly. While each situation is different, the legal issues mentioned above generally require legal assistance. If you need assistance with any legal issues affecting children, you may need to hire a lawyer. An attorney in your area can provide you with representation and can help you file your case.