When your children are taken from your custody by social workers, you will be advised to appear in court in the county where you reside. This hearing is called the detention hearing. At your first Orange County child dependency case, the judge will decide where your children will reside during the court case. You will arrive in court anxious and confused. There is too much at stake not to enter your first hearing without a lawyer who you hired personally to help get your kids back.
Unfortunately, by the time you leave the court that day, there is a good chance you will be more confused than when you entered the court. This is due to the fact that most juvenile dependency courts have far too many cases to deal with on a daily basis and far too few attorneys to handle all of the cases they are assigned.
When you arrive, you will find many parents looking confused, children running around, and lawyers or other court personnel yelling out names. In Orange County and other juvenile dependency courts, you will stand in a line and be told by court personnel in which court your case will be heard in that day. Then you will go to the assigned courtroom.
However, when you arrive, you will find that you will be sitting outside the court room for a lengthy period of time. Often, a court bailiff will come out and take “roll” to confirm who is present in the courtroom that day. Then you will wait and wait for a lawyer to come out and call out your name. This is the lawyer that the court has decided will represent you.
How Much Time Will the Public Lawyer Have to Review a Case?
In most cases, you will have very little time to discuss the facts of your case with your lawyer. The dependency court process is very complicated and the lawyer should attempt to explain the process to you. However, that lawyer will likely have a very high number of cases to handle that same day. You will want to tell the lawyer what your side of the story is and how badly you want to have your children returned to you. Unfortunately, the court appointed lawyer may not have time to discuss the facts of your case with you.
Your lawyer should provide you with a copy of the “detention report,” which is a report prepared by the social worker explaining to the judge why your children were taken from you. The report should also have a recommendation as to where your children should remain pending the outcome of the court case.
Your case will be called by the judge and there will be many lawyers and court personnel in the courtroom. There will normally be four lawyers assigned to your case; one to represent you, one to represent the other parent, one to represent the children, and one to represent the social workers, often called the County Counsel.
The judge will be speaking about the legal issues involved in the case, and for the average parent it is extremely difficult to comprehend what is going on. If you only had a few moments to speak to your lawyer, you likely will be inadequately prepared for what happens in court.
In most cases, the court will order that your children not be returned to you but rather remain in protective custody. In some cases, the court can order the children released to a family member after their home is “checked out” by an assigned social worker.
The court will then set more court dates. The court will also determine what type of visitation you will have with your children pending future hearings in your case. Many times the visitation is limited to a few hours a week monitored by a social worker.
Of course, your children will have a difficult time understanding what is going on. They likely have never been taken away from you before and are terrified as to what will happen to them and when they can come home. Hopefully, the lawyer appointed for them will spend enough time with them to explain to them what is going on.
If all of the above was not enough, you will then find out that you will be paying for the lawyer appointed for you and your children. The county will send you a bill at the end of the case for a lawyer you did not select and likely a lawyer you would prefer not to have handling your case.
Why Should I Hire a Private Lawyer if my Children have been Taken Away by Social Workers?
When your children are taken from you, this will likely be one of the most stressful periods in your life. You should immediately consult with a private law firm that has experience in handing juvenile dependency matters. An experienced child dependency lawyer can go over all of the facts of your case with you. They can calmly explain the entire process to you before your court date so you will understand what is going on. Your dependency lawyer can appear at all the court hearings for you. The lawyer can argue to the judge that you are not a risk to your children and they should be returned to you.
At Wallin & Klarich, our team of child dependency attorneys has over 30 years of experience successfully representing clients facing child dependency matters. When you retain our firm, our attorneys will carefully review the facts of your case and help you prepare for what is yet to come. Let us fight for your children today.
Call us now at (877) 749-7428.