If there is concern that a child is experiencing abuse, neglect or abandonment in a home, someone may file a complaint with the court. The court that oversees these types of complaints is the Juvenile Dependency Court.
Juvenile Dependency Court deals with child safety issues and focuses on ensuring that children do not remain in a home where they are not safe.
The four paths for dependency cases
According to A Parent’s Guide to Juvenile Dependency Court, there are usually four paths that dependency cases follow:
- The court determines that the child is safe to return home
- A hearing occurs and there is insufficient evidence to remove the child from his or her home
- A hearing occurs and the court determines that a case plan development, along with its completion, is necessary prior to the child returning home
- A court determines that the situation is an immediate threat to the child and the child is removed from his or her home
In cases where the child is not in immediate danger, a parent’s refusal to work on or complete the case plan may also result in the removal of the child from the home. This also results in the termination of parental rights.
The road to getting children back in the home
FindLaw states that the termination of parental rights is rare and occurs most often in cases involving child neglect or abuse. It is more common for the court to decide that a case plan is necessary to put a child back in his or her home. Some case plans may require the parent(s) in question to attend drug or alcohol classes or leave an abusive partner.
Because Juvenile Dependency Court is meant to protect the best interests of the child, it is unlikely that a parent is unable to have his or her children back unless the court sees no way to make his or her home a safe place.