Dependency Court


Unfortunately, child abuse exists, and in
various forms. Fortunately, there are legal methods for protecting
a child. Additionally, there are also ways for parents
to clear-up any perceived or alleged wrongdoing towards their child. All this happens through what’s called dependency
court. At least, that’s what it’s called. But in Florida, it really is just a type of
case brought under the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure and generally handled by the Family
Court division of your local courthouse. A dependency case starts when a child is taken
from parents and the state files what’s known as a “petition for dependency.” But before a child can be taken, a complaint
must usually be filed with the Florida Child Abuse Hotline. This prompts the state to follow-up with an
investigator within 24 hours of the complaint… … usually with the involvement of the Child
Protective Services, overseen by the Department of Children and Families or DCF. The on-site investigation involves an inspection
of the home and the conditions under which the child lives…
… an interview with the parents, and observing whether there are signs of physical harm,
drug and alcohol abuse… … or anything else endangering the child’s
welfare. If it is determined the child’s safety is
in question, they will be placed in a temporary protective home. This may mean a relative’s house or, barring
that, a foster home. Then, an initial hearing is scheduled to determine
if there was reasonable cause for the “petition of dependency” to be filed. This may be included with several other types
of hearings that take place throughout the year. These are a shelter hearing, trial, review
hearing, and permanency planning hearing. Throughout the process, the dependency court
can mandate medical and psychological tests, intervention classes and training courses
for the parents. Failure of or non-compliance with these requirements
can lead to permanent loss of the children. This is all part of the “case plan,” which
contains the guidelines for how a child can be returned to the home. This process can be drawn out, repetitive,
confusing and frustrating for both the parents and the child. But if you’re fighting to get your child
back then they must be endured. LegalYou has the resources to give you the
endurance—and the guidance. LegalYou. You can do this.

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