Dependency Court

When county protective services [Department of Social Services [DCSS]) believes there may be abuse or neglect in the home it has the authority to remove a child on an emergency basis. This process usually begins when someone reports suspected child abuse or neglect or when a minor is left without support or parent unwilling to provide care.

If DCSS believes that a child should be removed from the home, or has removed a child for health and safety reasons, it must file a petition with the Juvenile court. An initial hearing, or detention hearing, will determine whether the child should be removed from the home because there is a risk to the child's safety.

Shortly after the detention hearing, more formal legal proceedings are held to address the underlying allegations of abuse or neglect (jurisdictional hearing), and whether she should stay in the temporary custody of a relative or the Department of Social Services.

The detention hearing and jurisdiction hearing are critical. You may have a lawyer represent you during these hearing and any subsequent hearings. If you need time to hire an attorney, you can postpone the first court hearing for 1-day so you can get an attorney. If you do not have enough money to hire a lawyer, you can ask the court to assign a lawyer to your case. (You may have to pay part or all of the costs for your lawyer if you earn enough money.) 

If you have had a child removed from the home, or believe it is imminent, please call my office for a free 30-minutes consultation to help you understand your situation, and advise you on how to best bring your family back together.