Removal from the home can happen if the agency believes the minor has been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parent or guardian. If the CFS takes custody of a minor, they will become what is known as a “ward” of the court.
WIC 300 is the law that governs juvenile dependency proceedings.
2. What happens When My Child(ren) is removed from the home?
The first thing that will happen is that you will be given notice of the dependency petition and a hearing date. You have the right to attend this hearing and bring an attorney.
At the hearing, the judge will decide whether or not there is enough evidence to support the allegations in the dependency petition.
If there is enough evidence to support the allegations in the dependency petition, the case will continue, and you will have to fight the allegations. If there is insufficient evidence to support the petition, the case will be dismissed.
3. Who’s Side are the Social Workers On?
Children and Family Services (CFS) is a department within San Bernardino County dedicated to investigating allegations of child abuse, child neglect, child endangerment, sexual abuse, and exploitation.
The primary concern of CFS is always the safety and well-being of all children.
Unfortunately, CFS and their social workers are not on your side. In fact, during the juvenile dependency hearings, they will be testifying against you.
If CFS is investigating you, you should have a lawyer present. What you say can and will be used against you.
4. How long do Juvenile Dependency / CFS cases last?
Juvenile Dependency cases last anywhere from 6 months to 18 months depending on the allegations, if there is a parental reunification plan in place, and what the reunification plan entails.
5. Who represents the child(ren) in the case?
Your child(ren) has a right to be represented by counsel. The court will appoint a lawyer who will represent your child(ren). Your child(ren)’s lawyer is not your lawyer. They cannot speak to you about your case.
You will need your own lawyer to represent your interests in the juvenile dependency proceedings.
6. Who makes the final decisions regarding my child(ren)?
The judge presiding over your case will decide whether your child(ren) should be reunited with you or if the court should terminate your parental rights.
The judge’s job is to decide what is in the child(ren)’s best interest. While dependency courts favor reunification, it is ultimately the facts of the case and how hard the parent tries and proves to the court that they are a fit parent.
If the child(ren) is not reunified with the parent, they may be placed in foster care.
7. Where is the Juvenile Dependency court located?
The San Bernardino County Juvenile Court is located at 860 East Gilbert Street, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0955.
8. Do parents have rights?
Parents have constitutional and other legal rights afforded to them by the State of California, which are triggered by juvenile dependency proceedings.
It is crucial to hire an experienced attorney who knows what your rights are so that they can help you use your rights throughout the proceedings and to help you get your child(ren) back.
9. What should I look for in a Juvenile Dependency lawyer?
The most important thing to look for in a Juvenile Dependency lawyer are:
a. Experience – How many juvenile dependency cases has the attorney handled?
b. Communication – Is the lawyer a great communicator and transparent about what is happening in your case?
c. Caseload – Is the attorney able to give your case the attention it requires and deserves?
d. Competency – Is the lawyer up to date with the current laws and constantly learning new skills to fight for you?
10. Who should I call if I have a Juvenile Dependency case in San Bernardino County?
You deserve to have a lawyer who will help you fight to get your child(ren) back. If you are dealing with a Juvenile Dependency case, Criminal case, DCFS case, or CPS case, you need the juvenile dependency attorneys at ALL Trial Lawyers by your side.
Don’t risk calling the wrong lawyer.
We know how the juvenile court process in California works. We have handled hundreds of juvenile dependency cases in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, and Riverside County.