Child Dependency Proceedings

When it is suspected that a child has been or is in immediate danger of being abused, neglected or abandoned, The Los Angeles County of Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), files a case that is heard in Edmund D. Edelman Children's Court in Monterey Park, California. All files and records in Dependency Court cases are confidential and not open to the public. Child Dependency proceedings may result in the parents temporary loss of custody of their children, and in some cases the permanent termination of their parental rights. Under certain circumstances a child can be removed from home without a court hearing, although a hearing is held fairly quickly to determine the necessity and appropriateness of immediate removal and a good attorney knows to look for and request alternatives to removal. Good legal counsel should always argue for alternatives. A police officer can call DCFS to take a child into protective custody if they believe that the child is suffering from an illness, injury or is in imminent danger from his surroundings which necessitate removal. When police officers enter a residence and make an arrest or find drugs, weapons or any contraband they always call DCFS to take the children out of the home and into foster care. A physician or hospital also can hold a child in protective custody if they deem the need to protect the child from suspected abuse or neglect. Children's Court Judges hold hearings to determine if children should be kept in foster care during dependency proceedings. Judges can also order release to family or friends who have successfully undergone background checks. Unless a lawyer pushes for this to happen, it can take a very long time to get your children out of foster care once they are removed from you. Courts decide whether the allegations raised by DCFS to make the children wards of the court are well founded and true. They can order Family Re-Unification Services such as counseling, in-home assistance, medical and dental care and financial aid in appropriate cases. Families are constantly evaluated by social workers throughout the pendency of these cases and the social workers make recommendations to the Judge whether to let parents keep or even visit their children and under what conditions. Often these social workers make mistakes, poor decisions or they are biased against the family for improper reasons. They needlessly destroy family relationships. Our office understands the process and the abuses that occur in the Children's Court System. We provide strong legal assistance and advice that is essential to successfully getting through this highly invasive and traumatic process, to adjudicating and restoring your family rights quickly and satisfactorily, and most importantly to getting your children back home with you where they belong.

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