Juvenile Dependency law protects children from abuse and neglect. Private Juvenile Dependency cases are initiated when a relative, caregiver or other concerned person files a Petition with the Juvenile Court alleging that a child is being neglected, abused or that the parents of the child are unable to provide care. The Department of Human Resources (DHR) can also initiate these cases by filing a petition after receiving a report about the child’s care or investigating the matter through its social workers. Upon filing the Petition, the Court issues an order appointing a Guardian Ad Litem for the child and scheduling a hearing.
Dependency Cases proceed in two-stages. In the first stage, the Judge hears testimony concerning allegations of abuse and neglect and thereafter determines whether the child is dependent. If so, the Judge proceeds to the next stage where he or she must decide who should be awarded custody of the child.
These types of cases can involve numerous parties including the parents, children, family members, state agencies, and a variety of court-appointed attorneys. A finding of Dependency is appropriate when there is evidence that the parent cannot or is not property caring for his or her or their minor child. Dependency is a less severe judicial action when compared to a termination of parental rights (see below). A dependent child may be united with parents if the parent demonstrates that he or she has corrected the problem that caused a dependency finding.
If you are seeking the assistance of an attorney who can represent you in a juvenile dependency and family court issue please contact The Hawkins Law Firm in Arab, Guntersville and Marshall County for additional information. We are committed to protecting the best interests of the child, and your best interests, too.