Arizona’s dependency court system is responsible for handling cases involving the care and protection of children. This court presides over cases where removing children from their homes is necessary because of abuse, neglect or other circumstances that put their well-being at risk.
Several types of hearings may take place in Arizona dependency court. These include:
- Initial hearings: These hearings occur quickly after removing children from a residence and determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the child requires protection.
- Shelter care hearings: These hearings determine whether a child should remain in temporary foster care or can return to their home.
- Adjudicatory hearings: These court hearings determine whether the allegations of abuse or neglect against the child’s parents or caregivers are true.
- Dispositional hearings: If the court finds the allegations true, these hearings determine the appropriate plan for the child’s care and placement.
Participants in the hearing process
The Arizona dependency court includes the active participation of the child, their parents or caregivers, the child’s attorney, a representative from the Department of Child Safety (DCS) and a guardian ad litem (GAL). The GAL is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the child’s best interests.
Role of juvenile courts
In some cases, the dependency court may transfer the case to juvenile court. This transfer may happen if the child has accusations of a committed a crime or if the court determines placement under the juvenile court’s authority would be in the best interests of the child.
The hearing process in Arizona dependency court can be complex and confusing. It is essential for all parties involved to understand their rights and the role they play in the process. It is also vital for the court to ensure that serving the child’s best interests is a priority.