Juvenile Dependency Attorney in Orange County, CA
Children depend on their parents or other responsible adults to protect and take care of them as they grow up. When a child’s parents are unable to or will not provide appropriate care for their child, the juvenile court may intervene and the child may become a dependent of the court in proceedings for juvenile dependency.
Features of Juvenile Dependency
A child under juvenile dependency action may not be able to live with his or her biological parents. Depending on the actual circumstances of the child, the court may determine that the child shall live with relatives or a foster care family for a temporary period until the child’s parent or parents are able to work out specific issues that prevent them from taking care of their child.
Dependency cases often start when a third party reports an incident to law enforcement agencies who may take swift action to remove children from the alleged situation. Juvenile dependency is a serious matter that can affect the relationship between parents and their children. Anyone facing dependency proceedings needs legal advice and representation to ensure that they are not unfairly deprived of their right to live with and care for their children. Talk to a family law attorney immediately about your next steps to prevent the any unfair removal of your child from your home.
What to Expect in Juvenile Dependency Cases
Judge’s sole decision
There is no jury in juvenile dependency proceedings. A judge examines the situation, considers various factors surrounding the case, and decides what is in the child’s best interests. A court may make such orders:
- Determining where the child should live
- Providing where and how the child’s parents can visit the child
- Requiring parents to undergo specific programs or meet specific plans for their children to live with them safely
- Requiring services or programs for the child to be safe and healthy
Role of Social Worker and Lawyer in Dependency Actions
A social worker will provide the court with the necessary reports which a judge can use in creating court orders affecting the child.
When facing juvenile dependency proceedings for the first time, a party will encounter new terms that they won’t understand and the whole prospect of attending several hearings can be confusing and scary. It’s important to have an experienced juvenile dependency lawyer who can explain the whole process and help you understand the next steps ahead.
Your lawyer can also work out a settlement with the social worker, provide names and details of your closest relatives who can take care of your child, attend contested hearings to present your side before a judge and obtain a dismissal in your case.
Hearings in Juvenile Eependency
Dependency cases will entail several hearings before a permanent plan or court order is issued. The court will initially conduct a jurisdictional hearing to determine if it has jurisdiction over the case. If the court does not take jurisdiction over the child, the judge will dismiss the dependency case and the child will continue to stay with his/her parents.
If the court acquires jurisdiction of the case, the judge will proceed to dispose of the case by first allowing the parents and the social worker to work out a settlement of the case. If a settlement cannot be reached, the judge will proceed to hear evidence in a dispositional hearing which will lead to an order placing the child with the parents or with relatives or a foster family. The child may only be reunited with the parents after the latter has completed a specified plan or program that will resolve issues that led to the removal of the child from the parents’ home.
A review hearing will take place six months after the dispositional hearing to determine whether the child should be returned to the family home or to continue the plan. Throughout the juvenile dependency hearings, parents should have an attorney beside them to guide them, represent them before a judge, and ultimately obtain a dismissal of the proceedings and reunite families.
Parents in Mission Viejo, California who are facing juvenile dependency cases can rely on the seasoned and compassionate family law attorney at the Law Office of Landon C. Villavaso. Our lawyer can help you sort the legal issues affecting your relationship with your children and help you obtain the best outcomes in your case. Call us today at (949) 257-5188 to learn more about how we can help you.