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

  • How Mental Health Affects Custody
    Raising a child is a demanding and challenging endeavor. This can pose problems for parents who suffer from a mental illness.
  • Adoption - Your Rights as a Parent
    When children are adopted, their legal guardians change from the biological parent to the adoptive parent. Once a child is adopted, the parental rights are transferred to the adoptive parent.
  • Was Your Child Taken From You? Here Are Your First Steps
    Take Action - If child welfare workers took your child from your home, you might be feeling helpless and scared.
  • How to get Visitations Supervised
    The bond between a parent and child is strong. But when that bond is broken or damaged, it can be difficult for children to feel safe when with the parent.
  • The Right to Provide Care - Making Sure Your Child Is in Safe Hands
    The right of first refusal is a provision commonly included in parenting plans to ensure both parents have every opportunity possible to spend time with their child.
  • The Role of a Child Welfare Attorney
    Child welfare cases are between the state and the parents. The dispute is over what is in the best interests of the child. For the parent, the child welfare litigation process is taxing. It will feel like it is you against a questionable child welfare system that has made mistakes in the past.
  • What Constitutes Child Neglect in New Jersey?
    Child neglect is legally defined as the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide for a child’s minimum needs.
  • How Can a Person Win Back Legal Custody of Their Children?
    Losing custody of your child is a heart-wrenching experience for any parent. It’s a difficult thing to accept that the court believes your children are better off with someone else- whether that person is your ex spouse, your parents or the foster care system.
  • Juvenile Offenses and the Justice System
    Offenses from youthful offenders are not uncommon. However, this group of individuals is often perceived as a group that can be rehabilitated and avoid a life of crime. This makes crimes involving juvenile delinquency a complex area of the law that attempts to balance the needs of the public with the needs of the youth.
  • How Does a Minor Get Emancipated?
    Some find it surprising, but it is not that uncommon for family law attorneys to hear the question “how does a minor get emancipated?” Reasons for emancipation can vary widely, from unhappy home environments to needing to grant a minor independence to govern his or her own affairs.
  • 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.




Contact a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer