JUVENILE LAW

Guardian Ad Litem, Custody Matters,

Misdemeanor and Felony Defense, Probate

JUVENILE LAW

Guardian Ad Litem, Custody Matters,

Misdemeanor and Felony Defense, Probate

Juvenile court generally has authority over children accused of being unruly or delinquent, juveniles who, because of the acts of parents or others are alleged to be abused, neglected or dependent (that is, in need of assistance from the state), and children subject to parenting issue disputes. 

In cases where a child is accused of being unruly or delinquent, the juvenile court is vested with authority to balance the procedural aspects of a criminal allegation and the best interest of the child alleged to have committed an offense.  Juveniles have constitutional protections like adults, they are not entirely the same. For example, where adults may plead not guilty, no contest, or guilty, juveniles may only plead deny or admit, or untrue or true.  Another distinction is that juveniles, barring very specific exceptions, are not entitled to a jury trial. 

In abuse, neglect or dependency cases, children have generally been removed from the care of their parents or guardians by the state for specific reasons related to the welfare of the children.  These cases usually include allegations of sexual abuse perpetrated by a parent upon a child, where a child is born testing positive for illegal substances, where a child has not been able to thrive as a result of parental neglect, and so on.  The rules of procedure differ from general civil cases in terms of timelines and evidentiary standards. Most significantly, these cases have a "sunset" date of two years, at which time the rights of parents or guardians who have failed to progress to reunification may be terminated.   

Juvenile court is the court of appropriate jurisdiction in cases where paternity needs to be established for a child or where rights and obligations such as custody, parenting time, and child support, must be determined between parents who never married. While the procedures and evidentiary standards are the same as that of domestic relations court, the focus of the court is the best interests of the children involved.