Having your child taken away from you by Child Protective Services (CPS) is an extremely stressful and traumatic experience. If your child or children have been removed from your home, you should not hesitate to reach out to a San Diego juvenile dependency lawyer who has experience in these emotionally challenging cases. With nearly 30 years of experience, child custody attorney Roseline D. Feral understands how to help guide you through the dependency court process and can vigorously advocate to make sure that your rights are protected at every step of the way.Understanding Juvenile Dependency Proceedings
Dependency law refers to a branch of law that deals with how to protect children if they are in a dangerous situation. Juvenile dependency is the process through which a child is removed from his or her parent’s custody or care and declared a “dependent of the court.” This generally happens in cases in which children have been neglected, abandoned, or abused by their parents, foster parents, or legal guardians.
The child dependency process starts once the Department of Social Services is informed about a dangerous situation involving a child, which prompts an investigation to figure out whether the child is in a safe environment or not. If the agency determines that abuse or neglect is taking place, the child can be taken from the home and placed into a safe home or foster care. In addition, visitation rights will be determined by the court. At this time, the agency can petition for the child to have “dependent of the court” status. It is important to note that a skilled juvenile dependency attorney in the San Diego area may be able to help you avoid having your child removed from your custody in the first place if the allegations of neglect or abuse are unfounded.
If the child is removed from your home, a court hearing is required to be scheduled as soon as possible. At this initial hearing, also known as a detention hearing, you will have a chance to acknowledge or refute the allegations of abuse or neglect. The judge will review your case and make a determination about whether the child will return home with you or remain a dependent of the court. This determination, like other custody determinations in California, is made according to what is in the ‘best interest of the child.’
If your child is not released to go back with you after the initial hearing, you will be permitted a jurisdiction hearing, at which you will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations against you. If the judge decides that the allegations against you are true, the child will not be sent home with you, and the case will move on to a disposition hearing.
At the disposition hearing, the court will typically implement what is known as a ‘reunification plan’ or case plan for the child. A social worker and you can create this plan and offer it to the court. A San Diego juvenile dependency attorney can represent you during this process to make sure that your voice is heard. The plan typically outlines a way for you to complete certain requirements so that you can be reunited with your child. If the court accepts your plan, it will review your case at least once every six months to evaluate your progress. It is possible that the judgment may allow your child to return home with you after your first hearing.
Services to reunify you with your child typically end within 12 months, although the court can extend them to 18 months. If the court decides, however, that your child will not be returned to you, there will be a hearing within four months about a more permanent solution for your child. For example, the court may decide that the child should permanently remain in foster care or in the care of a relative, or it may terminate a parent’s rights.Contact a Juvenile Dependency Lawyer in San Diego or Surrounding Cities
If you are in a situation in which CPS has taken your child or children away from you, you need to reach out to a family law attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Feral can examine the facts of your case and fight for your parental rights in court, or take the necessary action to ensure that your child is safe. We proudly represent people in Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista. Contact our office today via phone at 619-232-1010, or you can reach Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191. Additionally, you can contact us online to discuss your needs with a child custody or support attorney.