Family Law - Juvenile Dependency Court
Dependency cases concern family situations where allegations of
abuse or neglect have been made, and the juvenile court intervenes
to protect the family's children
Why is this matter
There have been one or more reports about the safety of your child;
a police officer or social worker must investigate to see if your
child's safety and protection require official intervention through
the juvenile court.
my child was taken from me, why?
Your child may have been taken from you and placed in protective
custody because a police officer or social worker believes this
is necessary for the protection of your child. Some of the reasons
- Your child had inadequate care or supervision; or
- Your child was neglected, abused, or molested; or
- Your child was left with someone who could not or would not
provide adequate care.
If my child is not with me,
where is my child?
Your child may be at a county shelter or in a temporary foster home.
The social worker will provide additional information or give you
a telephone number to call to find out more about the arrangements
that have been made for your child's care and about your future
contact with your child. To learn more, call your child's social
worker during regular business hours.
my child be returned to me?
It is possible that your child will be returned to you. The social
worker assigned to investigate the case will review information
about you, your home, and your child and will act according to what
appears to be the best way to make sure your child is safe. If your
child is not returned to you, your child may be temporarily placed
- Your child's other legal parent (if you are not living together);
- A relative; or
- A foster or shelter home.
What about relatives?
The law requires that you tell the social worker the names, addresses,
telephone numbers, and other information about your child's other
legal parent or other relatives who may be able to care for your
child. The social worker will contact them, see if they can provide
for your child, and determine if their home will be safe for your
child. In this way, your child may not have to go to someone you
and your child do not know.
If the social worker believes that your child is not safe, the social
worker will file papers in juvenile court asking the court to declare
your child to be a dependent of the court and to make orders regarding
the care, custody, and supervision of your child.
The first paper filed is called a petition, and it must be filed
within two court days (regular workdays) of the time your child
was taken from you or within a reasonable time if your child remains
You will be notified of the date, time, and place of the first court
Where can I get additional
- · You can get more information about where your child
is and about the court process from your child's social worker
or your local child welfare agency.
- Find contact information for the superior
court in your county. If the address and telephone number
of the juvenile court is not listed, call the court's main telephone
- If you do not have your social worker's telephone number, contact
your county government. Click here to locate your county's Web
(If your county does not have a Web site, check the county government
section of your phone book. Look for a telephone number for the
social services, human services, or similar department.)