Step 1 Preliminary Protective Hearing or Initial Dependency Hearing
DCS will file a dependency petition if they have probable cause that a child has suffered abuse. The first hearing will be a preliminary protective or initial dependency hearing. This hearing must occur within 21 days.
Preliminary Protective Hearing
The purpose of this hearing is to review the taking into temporary custody of a child. It will take place not fewer than five days nor more than seven days after the child is taken into custody.
The court will determine the placement of the child and services for parents.
Court can continue for five days.
Preliminary Protective Hearing & Initial Dependency Hearing Rights (A.R.S. §8-843)
Parents have the following rights:
1. The right to counsel,
2. The right to trial by the court on the allegations in the petition.
3. The right to cross-examine all witnesses that are called to testify against the parent or guardian.
4. The right to use the process of the court to compel the attendance of witnesses.
Important Note: Indigent parents are appointed counsel paid for by the city.
At the Initial Dependency hearing the parents will have the ability to admit or deny the allegations in the dependency petition or request a trial.
The child will be appointed a guardian ad litem or, if the child is over 12 years old, an attorney. Both will be paid for by the city.
Step 2 Dependency Adjudication Hearing; Settlement Conference or Mediation
If, at the dependency adjudication hearing, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the allegations contained in the petition are true, the court shall:
(a) Make the following findings as to each parent:
(i) That the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the person before the court.
(ii) The factual basis for the dependency.
(iii) That the child is dependent.
(b) Conduct a disposition hearing. (A.R.S. §8-844)
The court may hold the disposition hearing on the same date as the dependency adjudication hearing or at a later date.
If a parent fails to appear at the pretrial conference, settlement conference or dependency adjudication hearing, the court may find that the parent has waived the parent's legal rights and is deemed to have admitted the allegations. Therefore the court will skip the disposition hearing (Step 3) and set the Permanency hearing (Step 4).
Step 3 Disposition Hearing
At the disposition hearing the court will decide: the placement for the child, the case plan and services.
The court may enter orders awarding a dependent child as follows:
1. To a relative, friend, or foster parent with good moral character.
2. To a suitable institution.
3. To an appropriate public or private agency licensed to care for children. (A.R.S. §8-845)
Step 4 Permanency Hearing
The court will hold a permanency hearing to determine the future permanent legal status of the child. The timing of this hearing is determined by the age of the child and can be found at A.R.S. §8-862. At the permanency hearing, the court will determine where to place the child. The court will conduct a yearly review of the order if the child is permanently placed outside of the home.
A parent MUST follow court orders in regards to the dependency petition.
Start services as soon as possible.
TIP: Find your own services such as community parenting classes, substance treatment, or a counselor through a private institution.
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