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Family Law - Juvenile Dependency Court

> Why is this matter being investigated?
> If my child was taken from me, why?
If my child is not with me, where is my child?
> Will my child be returned to me?
What about relatives?
> What happens now?
> Where can I get additional information?

Dependency cases concern family situations where allegations of abuse or neglect have been made, and the juvenile court intervenes to protect the family's children

Why is this matter being investigated?
There have been one or more reports about the safety of your child; a police officer or social worker must investigate to see if your child's safety and protection require official intervention through the juvenile court.

If my child was taken from me, why?
Your child may have been taken from you and placed in protective custody because a police officer or social worker believes this is necessary for the protection of your child. Some of the reasons may be:

  • Your child had inadequate care or supervision; or
  • Your child was neglected, abused, or molested; or
  • Your child was left with someone who could not or would not provide adequate care.

If my child is not with me, where is my child?

Your child may be at a county shelter or in a temporary foster home. The social worker will provide additional information or give you a telephone number to call to find out more about the arrangements that have been made for your child's care and about your future contact with your child. To learn more, call your child's social worker during regular business hours.

Will my child be returned to me?
It is possible that your child will be returned to you. The social worker assigned to investigate the case will review information about you, your home, and your child and will act according to what appears to be the best way to make sure your child is safe. If your child is not returned to you, your child may be temporarily placed with:

  • Your child's other legal parent (if you are not living together);
  • A relative; or
  • A foster or shelter home.

What about relatives?

The law requires that you tell the social worker the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other information about your child's other legal parent or other relatives who may be able to care for your child. The social worker will contact them, see if they can provide for your child, and determine if their home will be safe for your child. In this way, your child may not have to go to someone you and your child do not know.

What happens now?
If the social worker believes that your child is not safe, the social worker will file papers in juvenile court asking the court to declare your child to be a dependent of the court and to make orders regarding the care, custody, and supervision of your child.

The first paper filed is called a petition, and it must be filed within two court days (regular workdays) of the time your child was taken from you or within a reasonable time if your child remains with you.

You will be notified of the date, time, and place of the first court hearing.

Where can I get additional information?

  • · You can get more information about where your child is and about the court process from your child's social worker or your local child welfare agency.
  • Find contact information for the superior court in your county. If the address and telephone number of the juvenile court is not listed, call the court's main telephone number.
  • If you do not have your social worker's telephone number, contact your county government. Click here to locate your county's Web site:
    (If your county does not have a Web site, check the county government section of your phone book. Look for a telephone number for the social services, human services, or similar department.)