Dependency: What You Need to Know

When a juvenile is no longer in his parent’s custody, he has basically become a ward of the state and is legally a “dependent of the court.”  Children who have been determined to be abused, neglected, or abandoned by their legal custodians, usually parents are most likely to become dependents.  However, children can also be removed from legal guardians or foster parents.  Children with special needs can become dependent if their parents are unable to properly care for them.

When an allegation of child abuse or neglect is received by police officers or the local child protective services (CPS) office, a request for dependency may be filed with the courts if an investigation supports the claims of abuse.  If abuse is occurring, the child will be removed from the home and placed in a foster home.  CPS will then request the child become a “dependent of the court” through a formal petition.

Children can be improperly removed from their homes.  If you believe this has happened to your child, a family law attorney can help you by making sure your rights are protected in court hearing.  You have the right to be heard by a judge and your attorney can make sure you get a trial.  They can also represent your child to make sure his rights are protected while he is not in your custody.  It is not easy to get your child back.  It will take months of hard work and diligence on your part.  The court can require you to participate in parenting classes or only allow supervised visitation with your child.  Even if you do not agree with these mandates, follow through with each court order so you can demonstrate your commitment to regaining custody of your child.

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