Dependency court hears cases about minors who are abused and neglected, and determines who the child should live with. While most of the time, the court tries to keep minors with their families, it will rule to take a child from their parents if it’s in the best interest of the child’s health and safety.
Why Does a Dependency Case Start?
A child abuse case begins when someone files a complaint or concern that you are abusing your child or not taking care of them properly, someone else is abusing your child and you are not protecting them, or your child is in danger of being abused by you or someone else.
When a complaint is filed, a social worker is required to investigate. The social worker assigned to your child’s case will talk to you, your child, and people who know your family, and will examine where you live. If the social worker determines that your child’s health or safety are in jeopardy, they will take your child from your care and file a petition with the court asking them to open a case to protect your child. In this instance, a dependency case begins.
What Happens During a Dependency Case?
During a dependency case, the court will decide if the allegations in the petition are true. If the judge decides the allegations are true, your child will be placed in the system and the judge is then allowed to make orders about your child’s care. If the judge decides the allegations are false, the case will be dismissed and you’ll be finished with the process.
If your child is placed in the system, the court will give you an opportunity to work toward a reunification plan. This involves your participation in reunification services assigned to you by the judge. Most of the time, you will have one year to complete the reunification services. If your child is younger than three years of age, however, you will likely only have six months to complete the program.
If you do not complete the reunification services within this time frame, the court will terminate the reunification plan and will instead look for a permanent home for your child with another family. Permanent plan options frequently pursued in this situation include adoption, legal guardianship, or long-term planned permanent living arrangement with foster parents.
Family Law Matters? Hire the Right Representation
No matter what family law matter you’re pursuing, the Law Office of Tiffany L. Andrews is here to help. Our firm handles family law cases with care and compassion. Attorney Tiffany L. Andrews is a certified family law and child welfare law specialist with over a decade of experience.
If you need assistance with family law matters, contact the Law Office of Tiffany L. Andrews, P.C. at (916) 794-4576 to consult with a qualified attorney.