The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court handles case involving:
- juveniles accused of traffic violations
- children in need of services
- children who have been subjected to abuse or neglect
- spouses who have been subjected to abuse
- adults accused of child abuse or neglect, or of offenses against members of their own family (juvenile or adult)
- adults involved in disputes concerning the support, visitation or custody of a child
- abandonment of children
- foster care and entrustment agreements
- court-ordered rehabilitation services
- court consent for certain medical treatments
In Virginia, a juvenile is any person under 18. A delinquent is a juvenile who has committed an act which would be a crime if committed by an adult. A "child in need of services" (CHINS) is a juvenile who has committed certain actions which, if committed by adults, would not be considered criminal offenses - such as truancy or habitually running away from home. Child abuse and neglect involves the improper care or violent handling of juveniles.
Juvenile and Domestic Relation District Courts differ from other courts in their duty to protect the confidentiality (privacy) or all juveniles coming before the court, and in their commitment to rehabilitate or treat, rather than punish, those who come before the court. The welfare of the child and the family is the paramount (highest) concern in the court's proceedings. In other respects, juvenile courts have the same requirements and provide the same safeguards as other courts in the court system. This court does not, however, conduct jury trials. All cases are heard by a judge.
Welfare and social service agencies are in frequent contact with the court in certain types of cases. They perform the initial investigation in abuse and neglect cases. Children may be committed to such agencies when they are removed from home. Other agencies provide such services as may be ordered by the judge.
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