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A child abuse lawyer specializes in handling cases that deal with child abuse, neglect, fostering, or guardianship. Child abuse lawyers may work both for victims or victim advocates and for adults accused of abuse. In addition to having comprehensive knowledge of child abuse laws, case histories, and precedent, a child abuse lawyer must have the fortitude and compassion to be able to manage well under the stress of this often difficult and sometimes devastating area of law.
When working on behalf of abuse plaintiffs, a child abuse lawyer is responsible for finding out as much as possible about the legal aspects of the case. He or she may need to request warrants, liaise with child protection agencies, police, and child psychologists, hire expert witnesses, and oversee depositions and testimony. Children involved in an abuse case often experience mixed feelings of anxiety, fear, guilt, and shame, and it is vitally important that a child abuse lawyer not add to the stress of the child's situation. Many child abuse lawyers that work with victims have some training in child psychology or child behavior, in order to help them better work with their clients.
It can also be a traumatic and terrifying situation for an adult to be accused of child abuse. Lawyers who work with abuse defendants are responsible for building a case that either dismisses the accusations or negotiates terms to allow the defendant a chance for rehabilitation. False accusations of child abuse can be incredibly damaging to the defendant's personal and professional life, and must be handled with the utmost dedication to restoring the defendant's life to normal. In cases where abuse has occurred, a child abuse lawyer that works with a defendant must be able to explain the possible penalties to his or her client and try to come up with a bargain that meets the requirements of the law.
Child abuse lawyers are responsible for building and presenting a case for their respective clients, but in many cases the outcome of the situation is largely out of their hands. As an extremely vulnerable class of citizens, children are subject to many protective laws and the jurisdiction of regional or national agencies meant to prevent harm to children. Even if a defense lawyer argues his or her case convincingly, the court may choose to rely on the findings or recommendations of protective agencies.
Lawyers who work in defense of children may sometimes have a very difficult job, even if they win their case. Children are often terrified of the consequences for bringing charges against an abuser, and may feel guilt or anger if their accusation causes a parent, relative, or other adult to go to jail, lose contact with his or her family, or suffer other penalties, however merited. With the many frailties of foster and state care, abuse lawyers must also live with the uncertainty of what future they are providing for their client by winning a case. Nevertheless, the trials of this difficult profession are sometimes mitigated by the joy of knowledge that a life has been saved or a cycle of abuse finally ended.
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