Abuse, Neglect & Dependency Law
Child abuse, neglect and dependency proceedings are initiated when an agency worker decides that it is necessary to seek court intervention to protect a child. An agency social worker will convene an administrative staffing prior to filing a complaint in Juvenile Court, unless exigent circumstances prevent the worker from doing so. Parents, relatives, service providers, the agency social worker and other interested parties are invited to participate in the staffing. An agency employee who has no case responsibility for the family facilitates these staffings. The purpose of the staffing is to determine whether the agency should seek removal or whether alternatives to removal can be implemented through a safety plan designed to protect the child without court intervention.
Day One Hearings and Emergency Hearings
The agency is required to file a complaint when a parent has signed a voluntary agreement for care and the child is not returned within 30 days. The first hearing on such cases is scheduled on the Day One docket. When the agency requests emergency removal of a child, the court will schedule a hearing that day on a Day One docket, if available, or between scheduled hearings on other days. If the need for an emergency removal of a child arises after business hours, any party can seek an ex-parte emergency order by telephone. When an ex-parte telephone emergency order is sought, a court hearing is set the next business day, but not later than 72 hours.
At the emergency hearing or Day One hearing, the agency may seek pre- adjudicatory removal or a court order authorizing the continued placement of the child. The agency may also seek interim protective orders to protect the child while the child remains at home.
The adjudicatory hearing is a formal hearing in which the rules of evidence apply. At the adjudicatory hearing the court determines whether the allegations in the complaint are true and whether they are legally sufficient to establish that the child is abused, neglected and/or dependent. All parties must be served with the summons and complaint prior to proceeding with the adjudication. The adjudicatory hearing is followed by the dispositional hearing in which the court addresses the appropriate placement for the child and the services to the child and family that address the problems identified in the adjudicatory findings. The court is required distinguish between the two stages and may not combine them. The adjudicatory hearing must always precede disposition.
If the child is found to be dependent, neglected, or abused at the adjudicatory hearing, a dispositional hearing is held. Ohio law mandates that there be a separate hearing concerning the disposition of the case within thirty days of a finding of abuse, neglect or dependency. Disposition must be completed within ninety days of the filing of the complaint.
The adjudicatory hearing takes place first because the court cannot consider dispositional issues concerning the nature of state’s intervention with the family until it determines at the adjudicatory hearing that there is a legal basis for state intervention. No matter how well intentioned the intervention might be, the state is not permitted to intervene in a family over a parent’s objection without first obtaining a court finding of abuse, neglect or dependency.
POST DISPOSITIONAL REVIEW HEARINGS
At the conclusion of the dispositional hearing, the court will set periodic review hearings and an annual review hearing. Periodic review hearings are set at the court’s discretion, typically in three to six month intervals until the conclusion of the case. An annual review hearing is required by statute and is set about 30 days prior to the anniversary of the date when the child entered substitute care or the date when the complaint was filed, whichever came first. Because the emphasis and purposes of the periodic reviews and the annual review hearing differs, they will be discussed separately.
In most other types of litigation, the court’s role ends or is very limited when adjudication is completed and a disposition is made. By contrast, in child welfare cases, a majority of the hearings and the most important work will typically occur when a case is in review status. Age appropriate youth should participate in review and annual review hearings unless the court determines their participation would be contrary to their best interest.
Start With A Free Consultation
Matthew Hawley, Attorney at Law provides free consultations for potential clients. Contact us and you’ll schedule a time to meet you at our office or over the phone regarding your case. During your first evaluation, we’ll examine the details of your case and tell you whether we can help. We believe in being honest with our clients. Let us protect your future at this time.
Matthew Hawley, Attorney at Law
248 Park Avenue, Amherst, Ohio 44001