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Key Outcomes in a Juvenile Dependency Case

A recent study published by JAMA Pediatrics earlier this year shed light on just how prevalent child abuse and neglect is in our country. The research concluded that 1 in every 8 American children will experience some form of maltreatment that is serious enough for government involvement or intervention before his or her 18th birthday.

This abuse or neglect can result in a petition for “juvenile dependency” to be filed which can result in the permanent removal of a child from the family home.

What is Juvenile Dependency?

Also referred to as Juvenile Dependency Court, these cases occur shortly after a child has been removed from his or her home by a social worker or law enforcement.

There are occasions when a child may be removed from the home (taken into “protective custody”) if law enforcement officers or the social worker believes that the home environment poses a threat to the well-being of the child. At this point Child Protective Services will make allegations against the parent or guardian of the child, and file a petition in Juvenile Court.

Potential Outcomes in Juvenile Dependency Court

Parents or legal guardians who are taken to juvenile dependency court will reach one of four potential outcomes:

  1. The judge can choose to dismiss your case
  2. The child can continue to live with the parent or legal guardian on a “family maintenance” plan in which a social worker and judge will continue to supervise the child
  3. The child is removed from the family home and is allowed to live with a relative, or is placed with a foster family or in a group home. The parent is offered “family reunification services” in hopes that the child may return to his or her family home in the future
  4. The child is removed from the family home permanently with no offering of family unification services. 120 days after such a judgement, there will be another hearing to determine where the child will reside permanently

In the state of California, the main goal of juvenile dependency court is to reunite parents with their children as quickly and seamlessly as possible. The best way to have a successful reunification with your child is to seek legal advice the moment you or a loved one is accused of abuse or neglect.

We at Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP have years of experience in legally representing juvenile law cases – cases that result in positive outcomes for both parents and children. If you or a loved one needs help with juvenile dependency, child neglect or child abuse accusations, we invite you to contact us online or call our legal team now at (858) 935-6211.

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