Municipal Law

Fall River

Child Dependency Services

Prentice|Long, PC attorneys currently provide full service representation to five counties for their Dependency Proceedings. 

Child Dependency Proceedings

When “a juvenile court hears a dependency case under § 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, the court deals with children who have been seriously abused, abandoned, or neglected.” In re Chantal S., (1996) 13 Cal 4th 196.

Dependency proceedings are special proceedings governed by their own set of rules and statutes.  They are civil in nature, and ultimately the goal is to protect children rather than punish the parents.

A typical dependency case begins with either a Protective Custody Warrant or a Petition. The initial hearing is called a Detention Hearing and a court typically determines whether a child can safely return to the care of their parents or must remain detained. From there, the case proceeds to a Jurisdiction Hearing, where the Department must prove their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence, and that the children remain at a risk of harm. The next hearing is called a Disposition Hearing and that is where the Court and Department tells a family (children and parents or guardians) what they must do in order to reunify or maintain the family unit. Dependency cases thereafter schedule review hearings every six months to check on the progress of the parents and children in their case plans and determine if the Department’s intervention remains necessary. While the ultimate goal is reunification, if that cannot happen, the case proceeds to what we refer to as a Selection and Implementation Hearing (otherwise known as a 366.26 hearing) where the court determines the most appropriate plan for the child: whether that is adoption, guardianship or long-term foster care. Each case is different and must be evaluated on the facts of that case.

Our experienced attorneys are capable of navigating the delicate nuances of Dependency Proceedings, having knowledge of initial Protective Custody Warrants through 366.26 Permanency Hearings and beyond. Our attorneys are also competent in dealing with the emotions that arise during the pendency of these matters, whether it be assisting a social worker to debrief and process a case for filing or report writing, or negotiating a resolution with opposing counsel, or ensuring that the minors counsel is included in the decision-making process as the case moves through the system. The ultimate goal of Dependency Proceedings is reunification of families, and our attorneys are zealous advocates for our clients at every stage of the case and have been effective in resolving these matters to the satisfaction of our clients.

Our specialized staff also handle all Writs and Appeals that may be filed and we defend our client’s positions with a very high rate of success.