Once the children have been removed from the home a Petition is filed by the social worker explaining what they believe to be the facts that constitute the emergency detention. This Petition is presented to the court at the initial hearing, which is properly referred to as the Detention Hearing. At this hearing the court informs the parents of what is going on, they ascertain the parentage of child born out of wedlock (they attempt to establish Paternity), they give the parents an overview of how the remaining portions of the proceeding will take place and most importantly they decide whether or not the children will be placed back into the care and custody of either parent or will remain detained and placed in alternative housing throughout the proceedings.
After the initial detention hearing concludes, two additional hearings are set, the jurisdictional hearing and the dispositional hearing. In some cases and in some counties these two hearings are often set for the same day but they do not need to occur on the same day. However what must occur first is the jurisdictional hearing. The jurisdictional hearing is the hearing where County Counsel, the attorney who represents the Counties Social Workers must prove that the initial detention and placement of the minor child as a ward of the state was proper. For this hearing a packet is prepared by the social worker that lays out the allegations and their findings after further investigation. This further investigation occurs between the detention hearing and the jurisdictional hearing. The social worker conducts interviews with the parents, the children, medical professional if necessary, investigating police officers if necessary, and/or teachers if necessary. They attempt to gather as much information for the court as possible. They then try to use this information to substantiate their initial findings to detain the child. This is any important step in the process for parents who believe their children were unfairly taken away from them. This is the stage where it is necessary to persuade the judge that the children do not need to be wards of the state because the situation does not rise to the level required under WIC 300. This can be done by presenting evidence that the allegation contained in the petition are incorrect for various different reasons.
However, if the court still decides given the circumstances that the initial detention was justified under the circumstances then a Dispositional hearing must be conducted. At the dispositional hearing a case plan is developed for the children to place them in the safest environment for them to thrive. This can occur in multiple ways. The child can be place back with the parents or either one separately depending on the specific allegations, placed in alternative care by an individual known by the family who has been previously screened by the social worker, or placed in foster care or a group home. But no matter then placement of the child, the parents and the children are both given services to help reunify the family back together, except in certain circumstances where it is not appropriate,. Theses services can be things such as parenting classes, domestic violence classes, individual or group therapy, drug/alcohol rehab, anger management or a variety or other services that are appropriate given the circumstances of the case. Once a case plan is put in place either via stipulation (agreement) or after the judge rules after a contested hearing a 6-month review hearing is set to check the progress of the case plan and determine which track the children will be placed on, reunification or adoption.
Juvenile dependency proceedings are extremely stressful situations and having someone there that is on your side and will fight for you, your family and your children is vitally important. The court will provide you with a court appointed attorney for these proceedings, but having the expertise and availability of private counsel during these proceedings is extremely important to a good outcome in your case. The attorneys at Bristol, Haynes & Associates will fight for you, your family and especially your children. We have the time to call social workers, to be present for interviews, to intervene when services are not being offered and most importantly to guide you each step of the way in this stressful time.
Contact Bristol, Haynes & Associates today at (909) 466-5575 to get a free consultation to discuss your situation.