How can families move forward after a juvenile dependency case?

Despite the best of intentions, parents often make mistakes. They may not consider the consequences of a decision until it is too late. Other times, they can fall into dangerous or destructive habits that impact the people they love the most. Most of the time, parental mistakes are nothing more than inconveniences and annoyances for the family.

Sometimes, parental mistakes can result in catastrophic consequences for the family. One of the most severe potential consequences for parents could be juvenile dependency. Juvenile dependency is the legal term for when the state of Florida intervenes and removes a child from their parents' custody.

Dealing with a juvenile dependency case is frustrating and emotional, but it is possible to regain custody of your children and move on with your life. Regardless of whether the issue stemmed from addiction or an unhealthy family dynamic, you can correct the issues and help your family rebuild.

Make sure you actually discuss the situation with your child

During the dependency case itself, you may have restricted or limited communication with your child. Instead of discussing the issue in depth, risking emotional upset for your child during an already difficult time, the best approach is usually to acknowledge the issue and let the child know that you are working on resolving it as fast as you can.

Once you regain parental rights, you can then discuss everything that happened in depth with your child. It's important that you are honest but also compassionate in how you approach things. You should never lay blame for anything that happened on the child, as that could be emotionally damaging. Instead, focus on the fact that you addressed the issues and were able to resume your role as parent.

Know when counseling is necessary for healing

Getting taken out of your home and placed in the care of relatives or strangers can be traumatic for children. It is also a traumatic experience for the parents.

It is reasonable for both you and your child to need some degree of support or counseling after a juvenile dependency case. Seeking care independently, as well as together as a family, can help you address issues, rebuild the trust and otherwise move forward.

Take steps to prevent any legal issues in the future

Finally, one of the most important things you can do will involve protecting your family against the future intervention by the state. Simply complying with any written parenting plan or court order is a good first step, but it should not be all that you do.

You should also document other efforts at improving your parenting and rebuilding your relationship. Anything from retaining receipts from counseling to documenting your visits to a parental support group can help you push back against future issues your family may experience.

The attorney who helps you handle your juvenile dependency case can also advise you about proactive steps to protect your family. With effort and determination, your family can heal and move on after a juvenile dependency case splits the family up for a time.

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Beverly L . Brennan A PARTNER AT MCLAUGHLIN & STERN, LLP - NAPLES, FLORIDA ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

Beverly L. Brennan, P.A.
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