Your Rights in Dependency Court

  1. What is a Dependency?
  2. You & Your Attorney
  3. Other Helpful Tips

A dependency is a claim by the state or a third party that a parent is unfit or unable to care for their child or children. The Department of Child Services (DCS) is usually the party who requests the state file a dependency petition to remove the children from the custody of the parents. DCS may request removal based upon suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse,  abandonment, parent’s substance abuse, neglect or the parents’ inability to control the child.

The Courts and Your Case

  1. Preliminary Protective Conference
  2. Initial Hearing
  3. Adjudication (Trial)
  4. Disposition
  5. Permanency Planning Hearing
  6. Severance
  7. Appeal

Preliminary Protective Conference

Once a petition is filed requesting that the children be found dependent wards of the state, the court schedules a pre-hearing conference and a preliminary protective hearing and appoints counsel for the parents and a Guardian ad litem for the child[ren]. The pre-hearing conference and the preliminary protective hearing will be held in five to seven days of the removal of the child[ren] from the home. The purpose of the pre-hearing conference is to facilitate the resolution of issues, custody, placement, visitation, outside of the court room. After the pre-hearing conference the parties will have a formal hearing before the judge where the agreements reached at the pre-hearing are entered on the record. Also, the preliminary protective hearing is where the parent may dispute the removal of their children and request a hearing  to determine whether the children require out of home placement. If a parent does not appear for the pre-hearing conference and the preliminary protective hearing, the matter will be set for an initial hearing.