During a child dependency, your child will likely be taken from you to live with a family member or placed in a foster home. For both you and your child, the duration of the case will be a time filled with anxiety and fear of what could happen if the court does not decide in your favor.
Fortunately, the courts are generally willing to give parents an opportunity to prove they should keep custody of their children. At the disposition hearing, the court will often propose a reunification plan (also known as a case plan) for you and your child. In order to be reunited with your child as soon as possible, you must follow all of the conditions set forth in the court’s reunification plan. If you fail to follow the plan, the court could take away your custody rights to your child forever.
Step 1: Cooperate with the Social Worker
The work toward reunification begins before the court ever becomes involved in your case. The first step you must take is to cooperate with the social worker. This can be difficult, as it is natural to be angry with the person who shows up on your doorstep to interfere with your family life.
However, you must remember that cooperating with social workers will help you retain custody of your child. The social worker has discretion to file a petition against you and have you go to court or can close your file. The social worker will also be instrumental in helping you create a reunification plan by making recommendations to the court about programs that you will have to complete.
Step 2: Hire an Attorney
The first step is to retain the services of an attorney who has experience handling child dependency cases, and who knows the complicated child dependency court system. Hiring an attorney early in the process allows your attorney to be more familiar with the facts and history of your case, which will help your lawyer prepare to ask for better terms and conditions in your reunification plan.
Step 3: Participate in Social Programs
As part of the reunification plan, you will likely be required to enroll and participate in one or more social programs designed to correct the behaviors the court believes have led to the petition having been filed against you. Generally, these programs include:
- Parenting classes
- Drug and alcohol counseling
- Domestic violence counseling
- Family counseling
These programs can be helpful in a number of ways. First, they can help you work through any domestic issues you are experiencing. Moreover, your participation in these programs shows the court you intend to do what is necessary to regain custody of your child.
Step 4: The Review Hearing
After six months, your case will come before the court for a dependency six month review hearing. At the hearing, the court will review your progress on the reunification plan. To ensure that the court knows you have followed the conditions of your reunification plan, you must keep your attorney and social worker up to date on your progress. If you fail to show progress, the court will shift its focus from reuniting you with your child to finding a new permanent home for your child.
Contact Wallin & Klarich for Help from an Experienced Child Dependency Attorney
Hiring the right attorney can make a tremendous difference in your child dependency case. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have more than 35 years of experience successfully fighting for people who have been wrongfully accused of child abuse or neglect. We fight tirelessly to restore our clients’ custody rights, and use all of our skill and knowledge to deliver the best outcome possible in our clients’ cases. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in child dependency cases near you, no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.