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How does dependency court work?

Sometimes, a child custody issue will go to dependency court. According to the Maricopa County website, this type of court will handle custody in the event the parents are unable to care for their children.

Usually, most cases that will go to dependency court start with the Department of Child Safety.

Situations

The situations that can lead to the need for dependency court include anything where the parent is not taking care of the child’s needs or is unable to do so. This might be a neglect situation or an abandonment situation.

The DCS may also step in if a parent demonstrates that he or she is unable to control the child. A child with excessive behavior issues or one with truancy problems may fall into this category. Generally, the DCS sees the parent cannot handle their child and needs help.

Abuse situations will also trigger DCS involvement and a move to dependency court.

Process

The process of going to dependency court usually begins with a report to DCS. Someone will call in to report an abusive or neglectful situation. The DCS will investigate and may even remove the child from the home. They will then begin the process of making the child a ward of the state and move into hearings where the parents will be able to work with DCS.

If there is no way to keep the child in the home, the process will eventually move to dependency court. The judge will then make a ruling to transfer custody to a third party.

Ideally, DCS will try to avoid removing a child from a home, but in some cases, there is no other option than going to dependency court.