Juvenile Law

Guide to Youth Law




Juvenile Law addresses laws, rules, regulations and the like, with regard to individuals under the age of majority, which is generally considered 18 years of age, although in some instances, this is 21 years of age. In addition to juvenile crime, juvenile delinquents, and juvenile court, this area of law also often deals with foster care and adoption; child support, custody and visitation; parental rights; treatment and care for disabled and mentally ill minors, child neglect and abuse, and other related issues.

Juvenile law is also concerned with child labor laws, under-age drinking and smoking, teen pregnancy, abortion laws for minors, marital consent, school attendance, legal name change, sexual abuse and statutory rape, and emancipation of a minor. It also sets individual state limits for parental liability. This helps to determine how responsible a parent or guardian is for damage caused by a minor due to criminal or negligent behavior by the juvenile. In most states the parent is obligated to pay for willful or malicious property damage and/or personal injury caused by their child.

The use of a next friend or guardian ad litem is often necessary in juvenile law. A next friend is necessary when a minor wishes to bring a court action; this can be a parent or guardian, or other responsible adult. A guardian ad litem is appointed by a court in a legal proceeding directly affecting a minor to protect and manage the child’s best interest. In many states, a guardian ad litem may also be used in child custody cases, even though the child is not an actual party to the case. The guardian can be a parent, relative or a, lawyer, but when it is not a lawyer, the child is often represented by both the guardian and an attorney.

Juvenile law is often handled with specialized courts of law called juvenile courts. Although they deal primarily with juvenile crime law, these courts also hear cases regarding abused, abandoned or neglected children. These are called juvenile dependency cases and may result in the child being removed from the home where they are being mistreated.

For additional information regarding laws regulating juvenile justice and crimes, visit our Juvenile Crime Law page.

For additional information regarding laws regulating children's rights, visit our Children’s Rights page.

Know Your Rights!

Articles on HG.org Related to Juvenile Law

  • Common CPS Complaints in New Jersey
    Child protective services may have a fundamental goal to aid and assist families suspected of abuse or neglect, yet certain workers of CPS make errors during their investigation.
  • How a Simple Assault Conviction Can Ruin Your Life
    What is a simple assault? Though the legal definition of simple assault varies from state to state, the broad base subscribes to it being an act of misdemeanor.
  • CPS Guidelines in New Jersey
    In the state of New Jersey, the Child Protective Services (CPS) is enforced through the governmental agency, CP & P, the child protection and permanency under the Department of Child and Family (DCF).
  • When Can New Jersey's Child Welfare Agency (DCP&P) Take a Child from the Home
    Having your child taken from you can be a terrifying experience. Unfortunately, many parents who are involved in child welfare cases with New Jersey’s child welfare agency (DCP&P) aren’t aware that they have rights they can defend.
  • What Should I Do When My Child Is Temporarily Placed in Foster Care?
    When your child is in foster care, he or she will be under the care of his or her foster parents. Although you no longer will be able to care for your child on a day-to-day basis, there are many things you can do to remain involved in your child’s life and contribute to his or her care.
  • Child Welfare Litigation Strategies
    It’s easy to feel as if the whole system is against you when you are fighting for your child in court.
  • Mothers vs. Fathers - Special Rights in Divorces
    Many people mistakenly believe mothers always get physical custody of the child in divorce cases.
  • Your Rights With CPS
    Child Protective Services (CPS) is required by law to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect. They are part of the New Jersey Department of Family and Protective Services, a state agency.
  • What Child Welfare Casworkers Expect from You
    When working with child welfare caseworkers, it is important to know and understand their expectations for you.
  • False Accusations Of Child Abuse
    When reading reports of sexual assault in newspapers and on television, it is natural to assume that they are true. However, the reality of the situation can often be different then what is reported especially in child custody and visitation matters.
  • All Family Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Family Law including: adoption, alimony, child support and custody, child visitation, collaborative law, divorce, domestic violence, elder law, juvenile crime, juvenile law, juvenile probation, paternity, pre-nuptial agreement, separation.

Juvenile Law - US

  • ABA - Center on Children and the Law

    The Center on Children and the Law, a program of the Young Lawyers Division, aims to improve children's lives through advances in law, justice, knowledge, practice and public policy.

  • Center for HIV Law and Policy - Youth Rights

    With nearly 5000 youth receiving HIV diagnoses each year in the United States, efforts to ensure the rights of HIV-positive youth, as well as to prevent transmission and ensure their access to high-quality care and services, are a critical component of HIV advocacy. To reach those most affected and at risk, this advocacy must focus on the needs of the most vulnerable youth, such as minority youth—who are disproportionately affected by HIV—and LGBTQ youth, who too frequently are treated as invisible in clinical and school-based sexual health services and education.

  • Department of Labor - Youth Rules

    The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division published a Final Rule designed to protect working children from hazards in the workplace while also recognizing the value of safe work to children and their families.

  • DOL - Youth and Labor

    The Department of Labor is the sole federal agency that monitors child labor and enforces child labor laws. The most sweeping federal law that restricts the employment and abuse of child workers is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - Youth@Work

    Welcome to Youth@Work, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) website for youth in the workforce. The EEOC's goal is to eliminate illegal discrimination from the workplace for all workers.

  • National Abortion Foundation - Teenage Women, Abortion, and the Law

    Four in every five Americans begin having intercourse before age 20. Many of the youngest women in this group (70% of those age 13 or under) report having had sex forced on them. By the time they turn 20, about 40% of American women have been pregnant at least once. Many of these young women have little understanding of their bodies and have begun having sexual intercourse before knowing about ways to prevent pregnancy.

  • OSHA - Young Workers Safety

    This site provides safety and health information for young workers and others. It answers questions often asked by the working teen. Details about workers' rights and links to training and other educational tools may also be found here. You can look over your State's youth employment laws.

  • State Compulsory School Attendance Laws

    The term compulsory attendance refers to state legislative mandates for attendance in public schools (or authorized alternatives) by children within certain age ranges for specific periods of time within the year. Components of compulsory attendance laws include admission and exit ages, length of the school year, enrollment requirements, alternatives, waivers and exemptions, enforcement, and truancy provisions.

  • State Teen Marriage Law

    As a teenager considering marriage, do you know how old you have to be to legally get married? You need to know the legalities and requirements concerning teen marriage in the locale where you want to get married. Many states' teen marriage laws are making it harder for teens to marry.

  • Underage Drinking and Teen Drinking Prevention

    Alcohol use by underage drinkers is a persistent public health problem in the United States, and alcohol is the most commonly used drug among adolescents. Accordingly, numerous approaches have been developed and studied that aim to prevent underage drinking.

Organizations Related to Juvenile Law

  • Advocates for Youth

    Established in 1980 as the Center for Population Options, Advocates for Youth champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates believes it can best serve the field by boldly advocating for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health. Advocates focuses its work on young people ages 14-25 in the U.S. and around the globe.

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway

    Child Welfare Information Gateway connects child welfare and related professionals to comprehensive information and resources to help protect children and strengthen families. We feature the latest on topics from prevention to permanency, including child abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption.

  • Focus Adolescent Services

    Our mission is to provide information and resources to empower individuals to help their teens and heal their families. Through education, self-awareness, self-help, and personal responsibility, families can rebuild their relationships and reconnect in positive and loving ways. The free availability of the Focus website reflects our commitment to disseminate knowledge to the widest possible audience. For over a decade, Focus Adolescent Services has adhered to this mission, helping to save youth and families.

  • Healthy Teen Network

    Healthy Teen Network is devoted to making a difference in the lives of teens and young families. We are a national organization focused on adolescent health and well-being with an emphasis on teen pregnancy prevention, teen pregnancy, and teen parenting.

  • Juvenile Law Center

    Juvenile Law Center is the oldest non-profit, public interest law firm for children in the United States. Founded in 1975 by four new graduates of Temple Law School in Philadelphia, Juvenile Law Center has become a national advocate for children’s rights, working across the country to enforce and promote the rights and well-being of children who come into contact with the justice, child welfare and other public systems.

  • National Center for Drug Free Sport

    The National Center for Drug Free Sport, Inc.® (Drug Free Sport™) is the premier provider of drug testing services, drug screening policies and drug education programs in sport.

  • National Center for School Engagement

    The National Center for School Engagement was established based on over a decade of educational research conducted by Colorado Foundation for Families and Children. NCSE has generated many resources about school attendance, attachment, and achievement . NCSE provides training and technical assistance, research and evaluation to school districts, law enforcement agencies, courts, as well as state and federal agencies -- to name a few.

  • National Center for Youth Law (NCYL)

    The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) uses the law to improve the lives of poor children. NCYL works to ensure that low-income children have the resources, support, and opportunities they need for a healthy and productive future. Much of NCYL's work is focused on poor children who are additionally challenged by abuse and neglect, disability, or other disadvantage.

  • National Youth Rights Association (NYRA)

    The National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) defends the civil and human rights of young people in the United States through educating people about youth rights, empowering young people to work on their own behalf in defense of their rights, and taking positive steps to lessen the burden of ageism. We believe certain basic rights are intrinsic parts of American citizenship and transcend age or status limits.

  • Partnership for Families & Children

    The Partnership for Families & Children is a trusted collaborator working with funders, government agencies and other nonprofits committed to improving the lives of vulnerable children and their families. Our passion and dedication, combined with our ability to connect resources, enhances our partner’s ability to affect change and achieve greater social impact.

Publications Related to Juvenile Law

  • Mayo Clinic - Parenting skills: Tips for raising teens

    Helping an adolescent become a caring, independent and responsible adult is no small task. Understand the parenting skills you need to help guide your teen.

  • Troubled Teen 101

    Troubled Teen 101 is presented for parents in need of teen help. We offer information on teen issues, problems, and behavior disorders. We give recommendations on programs for troubled teens, boarding schools, and other teen boot camp alternatives for teen help. We also provide details on various types of programs for teens including military schools, boot camps, and wilderness programs. Our troubled teen help reps will not recommend these short term options. We believe in promoting home based solutions and then long term options.




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