Filing a Private Dependency Petition

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Filing a Private Dependency Petition


The purpose of filing a Dependency Petition is to take custody from the parent on an urgent basis because the children’s safety and wellbeing is at risk. This is a serious constitutional action that will involve DCS. You should consider all options prior to filing. Contact our office to discuss your legal options and to make sure this is the best option. Asking a court to take a child from a parent can be very divisive for a family.

STEP 1: Prepare and File the Court Papers.

A Dependency Petition must allege that the parent is unfit.    Petitioner’s signature on the petition is under oath The Petitioner must be able to prove this in court by presenting evidence and witnesses.


Important Note: In Maricopa County

A dependency Petition can only be filed at one of the Juvenile Courts. Cases are assigned to based upon the zip code of the home of the custodial parent. Generally, anything east of Central Ave will be assigned to the Southeast Facility and anything west of Central Ave will be assigned to the Durango Court Facility.


  • This means notifying the parents and anyone else entitled to know that you have filed the Dependency Petition, and the Court hearing has been set.


WARNING: the first hearing may be set within 5-10 calendar days so you should give the parents the papers immediately after filing.

Things to think of prior to filing a Dependency Petition:

  1. Is the child is at risk due to parental behavior or inattentiveness;
  2. Does the child need medical attention or school enrollment and the parent is not around;
  3. Has the parent has abandoned the child or has a substance abuse or mental health issue.



  • Department of Child Safety (“DCS”) is required to investigate including, visiting the home where the children are living, conducting a criminal background checks on every adult in the home and interviewing the parents. See our page on Becoming a DCS Placement.
  • The parents will be appointed lawyers if they can’t afford their own and the children will be appointed a Guardian ad Litem, older children may be appointed a lawyer. If you are the placement the Guardian ad Litem will come to your house as well.
  • DCS may or may not agree with the dependency petition. They may decide to offer the parents services without court intervention.
  • Everyone involved will be invited by DCS to a Team Decision Making Meeting prior to the hearing.

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