When a family home becomes unsafe, ideally the parents have the insight to recognize and fix the situation. In the case of the parents causing the unsafe environment, other powers must step in. The Department of Child Safety investigates claims and may appeal to the state to file a dependency petition to remove custody from the parents.
As detailed on Maricopa County’s website, there are certain situations for DCS to prove in order to go forward with these dependency petition requests.
Visible signs of inability
Some of these situations are clearer than others, such as the outright abandonment or neglect of a child. Abandonment usually constitutes a failure to provide reasonable support such as normal supervision or contact. Clear evidence includes a failure to maintain a normal parental relationship for a period of six months.
Suspected signs of abuse
While neglect and abandonment involve certain windows of time before, suspicion of abuse is often all that DCS needs to investigate and appeal for a dependency petition. Physical abuse involves non-accidental injuries like bruises, burns or broken bones. Emotional abuse may show itself in the child’s behavior in the form of anxiety, depression or aggressive behavior. Sexual abuse includes sex acts performed with children as well as using children in pornography.
Once DCS appeals for a dependency petition, there is a long road of hearings where the courts hear you out and make choices based on the best interests of the child. Whether you seek to prove DCS right or stand up for your rights as a parent, it is important to understand your family situation, the allegations and options for making your home safe for your children again.