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Fort Lauderdale Dependency Action Attorneys

In Florida, when the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) obtains information concerning potential child abuse, it can initiate a dependency action to take custody of the child. Dependency actions can have lifelong consequences for a child and his or her family, so if you or a loved one is being investigated for child abuse and may be facing a custody battle, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Fort Lauderdale Dependency Action attorney who can ensure that your interests are represented.

Reporting Abuse

In Florida, parents and guardians are legally required to provide their children with sufficient support, guidance, and supervision. A failure to do so may constitute neglect or abuse. A person who suspects another of committing child abuse can notify DCFS. The most common method of reporting child abuse is placing a phone call to the Florida Child Abuse Hotline, after which a local agency will investigate the allegations.

In order to effectively determine whether there is any evidence of child abuse, a child protective investigator will interview the child, the parents, and any other adults living in the home. The investigator is also required to check the home for signs of drug or alcohol abuse or any other activity that could present danger to a child.

Petition for Dependency

If the investigator determines that there is an immediate danger to the child, he or she can choose to remove the child from the home. The child will then be assigned to a temporary placement home, which is usually with the child’s other parent or a relative, although the child may also be placed in foster care. A person with temporary legal custody has the right to have physical custody of the child, but must also fulfill certain duties, including the duties to protect and nurture the child and provide food, shelter, education, and medical care.

The investigator can then file a Petition for Dependency, which is followed by an initial hearing to determine whether there is probable cause for the child’s removal. A parent will also be given the opportunity to answer any allegations of child abuse at an arraignment hearing. There are a variety of ways a parent or guardian can answer the allegations contained in the petition, including:

  • Admitting the allegations contained within the dependency petition;
  • Refusing to admit or deny the allegations, but consenting to the court’s involvement in creating a case plan; and
  • Denying the allegations of abuse or neglect.

If probable cause is found to exist and an arraignment hearing has been held, the court will create a case plan, which is essentially a set of requirements that a child’s parents must meet before they can regain custody of their child. The child’s parents will be required to report back to the court every two months for a status hearing, in which a judge will determine whether the parents are adhering to mandatory counseling, drug testing, and fines.

Work with Joyce A. Julian, P.A., in Your Florida Dependency Action Matter

Dependency proceedings can have devastating effects on children and their parents, so if you have been charged with child abuse and risk losing custody of your children, please contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale Dependency Action attorneys at Joyce A. Julian, Attorney at Law, at 954-467-6656 to schedule a consultation.

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