Image of parents with lawyer representing dependency court.

Parents in Dependency Court

Dependency court can be overwhelming. In many cases, it can be the first time a parent has appeared in court as a defendant. In order to give more context, this article will describe what a parent’s rights are in dependency court and some best practices to make the right impression on the court. 

Best Practices For Dependency Court

The reason parents end up in dependency court is that a report was made surrounding the safety or welfare of their children. After receiving this report, an investigator on behalf of the court will be appointed to look into the situation and determine whether the children in question are or had been in immediate danger of being abused, abandoned, or neglected. 

In order to make the best possible impression on the court, parents should consider the following best practices:

  • Attend all of the appointments and hearings to stay informed and involved with the case.
  • Write down the dates of hearings, evaluations, or classes and input them in a phone calendar if possible.
  • Be punctual. Allow extra time to find parking, get through security, and find the courtroom.
  • Complete the court-assigned case plan.
  • Dress appropriately. Inappropriate attire may be reprimanded by the judge and may cast doubt as to how serious the parents are about this proceeding.
  • If there is something that can’t be accomplished because of a lack of money or transportation, that problem must be communicated to the caseworker and potentially the parents’ lawyer so that appropriate measures can be taken to assist them.
  • Keep the court, caseworker, and attorney updated on any change in contact information including email address, phone number, or physical address.

An additional best practice is to remain calm. Outbursts or threatening language can jeopardize a dependency case. One way to prevent unhelpful outbursts is to retain an attorney. 

Parental Rights and Responsibilities in Dependency Court

Parents are not helpless in dependency court. They have rights designed to protect their interests and present the best chance at a positive outcome for everyone involved. It is important to remember that although the court may have removed a child from their home, the only goal of a dependency court is to determine what is best for the long-term health and security of the child. Dependency court is not a tool to antagonize parents.

Some of the rights that parents have in dependency court include: 

  • The right to be represented by an attorney.
  • The right to represent themselves.
  • The right to a court-appointed attorney if the parents want one but cannot afford it.
  • The right to be notified of all court hearings and to be present for them.
  • The right to see copies of any Department of Children and Families or Guardian ad Litem reports filed in the parents’ case or presented at a hearing.
  • The right to receive services to help parents get their child back.
  • The right to be informed about any costs for services.
  • The right to be consulted about medical treatment and travel if the child is placed outside of their home.
  • The right to keep in contact with and visit their child unless otherwise ordered by the court.

In addition to parental rights, parents also have responsibilities to their child even if the child is placed outside of the home. One such responsibility is the obligation to provide financial support for the child when they are being cared for outside of the home. The dependency court or state Department of Revenue will determine how much parents can or should be able to pay to support their child based on the parents’ income.

While dependency court can be stressful, it is far from unwinnable. The best way to get your child back home as quickly as possible is to comply with the court and retain a divorce & family law attorney. An experienced divorce & family law attorney can argue compellingly on your behalf without being swept up in the powerful emotions surrounding the placement and wellbeing of your child. The best place to find a divorce & family law attorney is Attorney at Law.

 At AAL, our nationwide network of law firms and attorneys can match you with excellent divorce & family law attorneys in your area. Our partners have the resources, legal expertise, and experience to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients. 

In addition to a distinguished litigation record, our partners also have unparalleled levels of client care. We know the stress and anguish that can come with dependency hearings. At AAL we keep clients informed every step of the way and our partners are happy to answer questions and explore every option available to you.

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

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