Legal Rights of Children

For individuals and families who are faced with family law cases must understand not only the rights that they have in those cases, but also the rights of their children. Children, who can also be identified as minors, do not have the same legal capacity as adults, or those over 18 years old. The difference in legal rights between adults and children is due to the fact that children are still developing, physically and mentally, they are not viewed as capable of being able to handle the same rights as fully developed adults. However, even though children may not have their full range of rights, they do indeed have a variety of legal rights at birth and continue to expand their legal capacity as they age, for more information on those laws, contact your family lawyer.

Basic Rights of Children

Even though children do not have the legal ability to do all things that adults can, they are indeed born with a variety of legal rights. At birth, children are entitled to an environment that is safe, healthy nutrition, and an education. Even though the children are under control of their parents or legal guardians if these basic rights are not being met, the state in which the child lives may remove the child from their guardians’ care. If children are faced with a situation in which their legal guardians are not providing care that meets their basic, the child will be put into the care of a guardian that has demonstrate the ability to provide the care they are permitted under the law, typically with a family member.

Children are also given a list of legal rights under the United States Constitution at birth. Within those rights acquired by the United States Constitution, one of the rights children have is for equal protection. The right to equal protection means that each child is permitted by law to the same treatment by authority regardless of their race, gender, disability, or religion. Another legal right that all children have access to at birth is being entitled to due process. Due process is in which individuals are required notice and hearing before any of their basic rights are taken away by the government.  In addition to the legal rights that are granted to each child at birth, those who live their lives with disabilities are additional rights under the federal Disabilities Education Act. This act ensures children who require special education that features special accommodations receive the same quality of education of their peers who do not suffer from a disability.

Obtaining Rights Through Age

While children do receive a group of legal rights as soon as they are born, such as those featured in the United States Constitution, their rights expand as they grow older. One example of this is with the right to free speech. In many cases throughout the country, children are allowed to form their own opinions and speak their feelings, however, school rules can limit this legal given right. As children advance and continue through their schooling, they may be granted more access to their legal right to free speech and be more entitled to speak their mind.

As children advance to their teenage years and approach adulthood, they are granted more rights such as the ability to work. The exact age in which a child can begin their working career may vary based on the workplace and state, but most commonly the legal working age falls in the teenage years. However, there are laws in place that limit this newly acquired right. For working teenagers, the Fair Labor Standards Act and various state laws regulate their hours and overall employment.

Similar to employment rights that are accessible as children age, a child’s legal rights in terms of the criminal justice system are altered as they age. Children who are older receive more autonomy than younger children when it comes to being delinquents. Those who are juvenile defendants may be transferred to the adult side of the criminal justice system if they have committed a particularly serious offense. Oftentimes children who are being tried for some degree of breaking the law are held to much lower consequential standards than those who are over the age of 18.

One of the additional legal rights that a child may be exposed to as they close in on turning 18 and becoming an adult is the legal qualification for emancipation. This legal right is the procedure in which a minor is granted most of the rights and responsibilities of adulthood. In certain situations, emancipation is automatic, however, in all other cases, emancipation must be petitioned for in a state court. If a child is granted legal emancipation, they are no longer under the direct order of their parents or legal guardians and bypass the age requirement of 18 to become a legal adult.

The Law Office of Julie R. Glade, RN, JD

Divorce and family law cases can be one of the most difficult times in the lives of those involved, but having representation is key to alleviating some of the stress that one is experienced. The Law Office of Julie R. Glade, RN, JD is available to provide family law representation with their personalized approach that will aim to bring about the possible resolution for their client. Whether one is faced with divorce or a child custody case, The Law Office of Julie R. Glade, RN, JD is available to assist.

If an individual, child or adult, is confused regarding the rights of a child, the Law Office of Julie R. Glade, RN, JD is available to provide guidance. While to many it may appear as if a child does not have any rights that are comparable to adults, but that is not the case and the team from the Law Office of Julie R. Glade, RN, JD is available to provide clarity. This family law team is prepared to help those who question the legal rights of a child with a peace of mind regarding those rights. 

Check out our most recent blog post about: HOW TO MODIFY CHILD SUPPORT IN INDIANA