The Juvenile / Dependency Court System
If the social worker (CPS/DFS), after his or her initial investigation, decides to file a petition in the name of your children for reasons of parental neglect, etc. . . you will be notified of the court date. Often you will just be notified of a court date and nothing else! You have the right to have a copy of the petition that they file with the court before the hearing. Time and time again, parents appear in court with no knowledge of the allegations or their specifics. You should have all of that information before you appear in court. It is imperative that you have
If your children are taken into protective custody by CPS/DFS, the parent must be informed by the most efficient means available:
- that the child is in custody;
- the nature of the process, and;
- how a parent can regain custody.
Usually, a parent knows only one thing: their child has been taken and other information is being kept from them. Often, the social worker is “unavailable” or vague. Other times, the social worker will ask you to come in for an interview. THIS IS A CRITICAL STAGE. You have the right to be represented at every stage. It is critical to meet with the social worker WITH AN ATTORNEY. It is very risky to your position as a parent to meet with the social worker alone, without representation.
BY LAW, A SOCIAL WORKER FROM CPS/DFS MUST EITHER RELEASE
YOUR CHILD OR FILE A PETITION WITHIN 48 HOURS
You could risk losing custody of your children at the detention hearing or even before the court hearing. YOU MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY WHO WORKS IN THE AREA OF JUVENILE LAW/JUVENILE DEPENDENCY IMMEDIATELY. It is unwise to appear before a judge without an adequate legal representation. Juvenile Dependency is a unique area of the law and you will need an attorney who works SPECIFICALLY in the area of juvenile law/juvenile dependency that is experienced in order to best advocate for you.
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