Child dependency and neglect charges are serious, possibly resulting in
the permanent removal of your child from your home. In a dependency or
neglect case, the state of Arkansas must prove there was probable cause
for removing your child from your home and that probable cause continues
to exist to keep custody of your child. Proceedings for a dependency and
neglect case can be strenuous and contentious.
The following is a brief overview of a typical dependency and neglect hearing:
- An individual files a report with the Child Abuse Hotline and the Department
of Human Services (DHS) investigates the report.
- If the child is not considered safe when left at home, he or she can be
detained, or taken into temporary custody by DHS and placed in the care
of relatives or in a foster home.
- If the child needs to be placed in foster care, DHS will obtain an “Ex
Parte Emergency Order for Custody.”
- Within five days after the Emergency Order is issued, there will be a “Probable
Cause Hearing,” in which the court will determine whether DHS has
probable cause to remove the child and whether the child can return to
the home safely.
- Within 30 days after the Probable Cause Hearing, an “Adjudication
Hearing” will be held. At that hearing, which is also considered
a trial, the court will either find the child was dependent, neglected
or abused, or that he or she was not. If the court finds that the allegations
were false, the child will be granted to return home. If the allegations
are found to be true and the issue is not resolved, then the child will
remain in foster care. On the other hand, if the allegations were true
and the problems have been resolved, the child might be returned at this
point. Additionally, the court will order the DHS to offer services to
the parent(s) in order to assist them in remedying the situation, such
as parenting classes, therapy, and drug testing.
- At the “Six-Month Review Hearing,” the court will determine
whether the parent has adhered to the six-month plan and whether they
have received the services ordered by the court. If the problems have
been remedied, then the child can return to the home.
- If the problems are not resolved by one year, the court will set a “Permanency
Planning Hearing” to determine the permanent plan for the child’s
care. At the hearing, if the court decides that it is in the child’s
best interests to be adopted, then a hearing for termination of parental
rights is set.
- If the parental rights are terminated at the “Termination Hearing,”
the parental relationship is ended, and the parent and child are no longer
related, meaning the relatives of the parent are also no longer related
to the child.
- The court will continue to hold “Post-Termination Hearings”
until the child is adopted. However, the terminated parent is not allowed
Due to the complexities of these proceedings, having an experienced
family law attorney will be of great benefit. If you have a DHS hearing in Arkansas,
you need to
contact our Jonesboro family lawyer at
Ford & Cook, PLC today.