Arizona Child Dependency: Has Your Child Been Removed from the Home?

If your child is removed from your home in Arizona by Child Protective Services (CPS), things can get complicated fast. You probably will found yourself suddenly dealing with many different officials, scheduled court dates, and the emotional turmoil of abuse or neglect allegations. The good news is that CPS and the courts are only trying to protect your child, and the courts favor keeping families together. Take a deep breath. Your Arizona child dependency case can take a long time, but a little understanding and preparation can make all the difference.

What are the steps in an Arizona child dependency case?

In most cases, you can expect to attend multiple hearings over the course of the first year. It is crucial that you attend each and every hearing scheduled in your Phoenix child dependency case, or you could risk losing your children permanently.

Here's a timeline and description of each of the hearings:
  1. Pre-Hearing Conference: This occurs five to seven days after the child is removed from the home. The pre-hearing conference allows everyone to express and address immediate concerns, such as where the child will stay and who can have visitation. At the end, an agreement is given to the judge. If you're unable to find a solution for temporary placement at this time, a temporary custody hearing will be scheduled within five days.
  2. Preliminary Protective Hearing: This generally takes place immediately after the first hearing, allowing you to agree, disagree, or deny the allegations against you.
  3. Mediation or Settlement Conference: If you enter a denial, this hearing gives you the opportunity to resolve disputes and avoid trial. Speak with your Phoenix family law attorney ahead of time, as your attorney is not permitted to attend this step.
  4. Adjudication Hearing: This takes place 90 days after removal. If you entered a denial and have not yet come to an agreement, this trial allows the judge to consider the allegations against you and decide if you abused, neglected, or abandoned your child.
  5. Disposition Hearing: This also takes place 90 days after removal, or within 30 days of the trial. At this point, the judge will review the case plan and tell you exactly what needs to happen to get your child home or close your case with CPS.
  6. Review Hearing: This takes place three to six months from removal. At this point, the judge will check in to be sure that you are working to correct any problems and that you and your child are receiving the proper services. The case plan may be changed at this point, if needed.
  7. Permanency Hearing: This takes place nine to twelve months from removal. If your child has not been returned to your home at this point, the judge will decide if it is safe to return your child or if other options, such as permanent adoption, need to be pursued.

Although emotions can run high any time children are involved, remember that the ultimate goal is to make sure your child is safe and living in a healthy environment. If you have any questions about child dependency in Arizona, or if you have been accused of child abuse or neglect, contact the compassionate Phoenix family law attorneys with Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 1-888-929-5292.

We have the knowledge, experience, and skills to help you through this difficult time. You also may want to take a look at our FREE book entitled Arizona Family Law - How to Handle Tough Issues in Tough Times.