Child Dependency FAQs
(1) When would the Department of Children and Family Services investigate me?
You can be investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services if you are reported for abuse or neglect of a child. The process usually begins when a “mandated reporter” issues a report about your abuse or suspected abuse.
(2) Why was my child taken from me?
After the Department of Social Services is notified about the alleged abuse of your child and begin an investigation an emergency response worker will look into the situation and make the decision as to whether or not the child is in a safe environment. If the emergency response worker decides that the child is unsafe in the home, the child can be removed from your custody.
(3) Can I lose my child permanently?
Yes, the court has the power to terminate your parental rights. If the court decides after the child dependency court process and lengthy series of hearings that the child is not safe in your custody the court may terminate your parental rights and seek to find a more permanent home for your child. This can include adoption of your child or the establishment of another legal guardian for your child.
(4) What is a guardian ad litem?
A guardian ad litem is an attorney that is appointed for your child. A guardian ad litem seeks only to ensure that your child’s best interests are represented and that your child is placed in a situation that is most beneficial to him or her.
(5) If the court appoints a lawyer for my child will I have to pay the county for using that lawyer?
Yes, you are legally responsible for the legal bills when a lawyer is appointed for your child. In addition, if you are appointed a lawyer to assist you in the child dependency case you must repay the county for use of that lawyer as well.
(6) Can my child live with a relative?
You must provide the social worker or your attorney with the necessary information of the other relatives who can take care of your child. The social worker will contact the relatives to ensure that the living arrangement would be a safe and beneficial environment for the child. The court is not required to place the child with relatives, however they prefer to place the child with relatives and will give preferential consideration to any requests given by your relatives to care for the child. (WIC 361.3)
However, unless you have a suitable relative that lives in the same county where you reside and where the court process is taking place, it will be more difficult to have the child placed with that relative. In addition a background check must be done on all persons that reside in the relative’s home. If any occupant of the home has a record of prior criminal convictions of any misdemeanors or felonies the relatives home may not be approved.
(7) Why should I call a child dependency attorney to assist me through the dependency legal process?
The child dependency process not only is lengthy and confusing, but it carries substantial and painful consequences. Not only can you be separated from your child for a substantial period of time, it is possible that the court will completely terminate your parental rights through the child dependency process.
For this reason, it is important that you contact an experienced child dependency attorney who has knowledge about how the legal process works. The family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience and will walk beside you every step of the child dependency process.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Victorville, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Torrance and Ventura , there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney available wherever you happen to live.
Call us today at (888) 749-7428. We will get through this together.