The legal system contains many provisions for the protection of children. Some of the most distressing cases family lawyers handle deal with children in some way. Legal issues surrounding children range from child custody disputes to cases of child abuse.
Child custody law used to be focused on disputes between separated or divorced parents. Over the past few decades, however, the emphasis has shifted. The law now focuses on what is best for the child. Even the term ‘custody’ is rapidly falling out of favor. Now the focus is on ‘parenting time,’ ‘decision-making’ and ‘visitation.’ Custody cases are efforts to reach workable judgments in these three areas.
Divorce and child custody are very emotionally charged, and parents sometimes use custody cases as weapons against each other. However, in most cases, parents realize that it is not a fight, but an effort to reach a mutual agreement about their children’s welfare. It is still challenging for either party to be truly objective though, so the legal system needs to make the final decision.
Family lawyers can also assist in adoption proceedings. California state law makes strict demands on would-be adoptive parents. Family lawyers can guide you through the various steps and stipulations. For example, parents must be at least ten years older than the children they plan to adopt and must also complete a home study and background check before being approved. Final approval is also subject to post-placement supervision. Family law attorneys can guide and assist you through these processes.
In California, Penal Code 273d stipulates the definitions and punishments for child abuse. Child abuse is defined as the willful infliction of any cruel or inhuman corporal (bodily) punishment, or an injury that results in a “traumatic condition.” Child abuse can be prosecuted either as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the specifics of the case. These can be complicated cases to deal with due to the emotional and physical trauma involved and the interactions of family and criminal law.