Accomplished Juvenile Dependency Lawyer in Stuart, Florida
The Law Office of Denise Miller, PA in Stuart , Florida was founded by a former Judicial Clerk for the 17th Judicial Circuit and former Attorney for the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Division whose experience is deeply rooted in child services, allowing her to provide superior representation for clients who are being investigated by or have had their children removed from their home the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Dependency courts are not the same as family courts, and they require an experienced attorney to navigate the processes of reunifying families who have been divided by DCF. Our Stuart juvenile dependency attorney will provide the support, direction, and legal expertise you need during this difficult time, with the sole goal of reconciling your relationship with your children, so you can come together as a family and enjoy positive growth.
Why Is A DCF/Dependency Case Initiated?
When there is concern that a child is in danger at home, whether it is through abuse, neglect, or abandonment, DCF will investigate the claims and report their findings to the Juvenile Dependency Court .
Unfortunately, the child endangerment claims can be made by anyone, and are confidential, so you may never know who called DCF to report that your child(ren) is in danger. The case then shifts to you, the parent, to prove that your child is not at risk by you or anyone else who lives in the home.
If you are being investigated by DCF or have had your child removed from your home for allegations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, contact our juvenile dependency attorney in Stuart, Florida today to understand your parental rights and the next steps in your case.
How Are Juvenile Dependency Hearings Conducted?
There are multiple hearings that take place after children are removed from their homes, and they unfold as follows:
- Shelter Hearing
A Shelter Hearing must take place within 24 hours of the child’s removal from the home. At this initial hearing, the judge will review the evidence that is submitted by DCF. If the home is deemed safe for the child, they will be returned. In some cases, accompanying services will be advised by the court to ensure they remain protected.
If the child is not returned, the judge determines if the child is safe with relatives, or a trusted non-relative, who is willing to care for the juvenile. If neither is available, the child will be admitted into foster care.
- Arraignment Hearing
At an Arraignment Hearing, both you and the State will have the opportunity to present your side of the case to the judge. If the State is unable to provide enough evidence that your home is not safe and should be cared for by another, your child will be returned to your care.
- Adjudicatory Hearing
If you deny the allegations submitted in the Arraignment Hearing, the Adjudicatory Hearing will provide the trial opportunity where witnesses are able to testify regarding the validity of the accusations. Evidence will be presented to the judge, who will make the final decision regarding the care of your child.
Once the testimonies and evidence submissions are complete, the judge will either dismiss the case or proceed with a Disposition Hearing to pursue a case plan.
Before a Disposition Hearing is attended, our attorney will craft a case plan using the State’s recommendations that will allow your child to be returned to you upon completion. We can avoid a Disposition Hearing altogether through mediation, which will allow the court to review the agreement without a trial.
- Disposition Hearing
At the Disposition Hearing, the case plan will be reviewed and accepted, which includes a decision on who will have child custody of the child while the parent(s) complete their case plan. In the State of Florida, parents have one year to complete the case plan.
In most cases, once the plan is completed to the court’s satisfaction, the judge will review the case, and reunite the child with their parent.
What Are My Rights as a Parent In A Juvenile Dependency Case?
You have rights that must be upheld during a juvenile dependency case, and our experienced lawyer will ensure that each one is protected during this difficult time.
Your rights include:
- The right to be represented by an attorney at every stage of your case
- The right to be notified regarding all court hearings, and the right to be present during those hearings
- The right to see all copies of DCF reports that were filed in your case, or presented during hearings
- The right to receive the proper services necessary to help get your child back into your home
- The right to understand all costs associated with the services necessary to get your child back
- The right to be consulted about any travel or medical treatment administered to your child if they are placed outside of your home
- The right to contact and visit your child unless the court orders differently
If you believe your rights have been violated at any time, contact our juvenile dependency attorney in Stuart, Florida immediately for help.
Contact Our Juvenile Dependency Lawyer in Stuart, Florida Today for a Free Case Review
If your child has been removed from your home, it is important to have an experienced juvenile dependency attorney representing you during each hearing segment to ensure the path to reuniting with your child is not left to chance. Contact our juvenile dependency attorney in Stuart, Florida today at (772) 934-6007 to ensure your and your child’s rights are upheld throughout the entire process — from removal to reunification.