Image of a mother and child representing dependency court.

Dependency Court: How it Works

Childcare is a complex task. Often there are many voices offering advice and sometimes childcare arises as an unexpected job. When the state feels that the long-term health of a child is threatened, they may file a dependency case which drags both parents and children into dependency courts.

Dependency court is the legal domain where the safety of a child is assessed and, if necessary, corrective measures are taken for the health and safety of the child. When a dependency case is brought before the court, there are four possible outcomes:

  1. If it seems safe for the child to return, they will be returned. There may be some at-home services implemented for the child’s safety.
  2. The parent may request a hearing to argue their case. If the judge decides that the state does not have sufficient evidence to keep the child outside of the home, the child will be returned.
  3. If the parent voluntarily agrees to the services, or the hearing determines the state was right to remove the child, the parent will work on a “case plan” that is designed to make sure the child will return to and stay in a safe and stable home.
  4. If the situation is determined to be dangerous, the parent refuses to complete a case plan, or fails to complete the plan for a safe home, then parental rights may be suspended and the child may be offered up for adoption.

Dependency cases begin when a third party, usually a mandatory reporter, believes they see some sign that a child’s home may be unsafe. Following this report, an officer may come to see the home situation and determine whether the child is or was in any imminent danger. If the protective officer determines that the child is unsafe, they will be placed in a protective shelter while the dependency court determines the best course of action.

If you or your loved ones find yourselves in dependency court, you have a right to an attorney. Rather than allowing the court to provide a potentially overworked public defender, you may want to consider hiring an experienced divorce & family law attorney. 

A skilled divorce & family law attorney can represent your case in the challenging space of a dependency court. Your attorney can produce expert witnesses, subpoena testimony from friends or neighbors, and can stand firmly against the state to help assert the best place for your children to be. The best place to find a divorce & family law attorney is Attorney at Law.

At AAL, our nationwide network of attorneys and law firms allows us to match you with an experienced divorce & family law attorney in your area. Our partners have the resources, legal expertise, and experience to get you the best results in your case. 

In addition to a distinguished case record, the firms we partner with for divorce & family law excel in client care. Our partners understand the stress that proceedings can bring. That’s why our partners work hard to ensure that your case is dealt with efficiently to get you the closure you deserve.

Don’t wait. Contact AAL today for a free, no-obligation consultation and assert your parental rights today.

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