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What Kinds of Hearings are Held During a Dependency Case?
After a series of hearings, if it is decided that the child cannot be safely returned to the parent, the Court must decide on the most stable permanent placement for the child. The Court may consider terminating parental rights and proceed to adoption or, without terminating parental rights, proceed to guardianship or long term foster care. The child’s custody status can determine which hearings may be necessary.

Hearing Type What Happens
Initial
  • Detention hearing held if child was removed from home
  • Arraignment hearing held if child was not removed from home
  • Court reviews allegations, appoints attorneys (if needed), and sets next hearing date
  • Must take place within 24 hours of the petition filing if child was removed from home
  • May take place within 15 days if child was not removed from home
Jurisdiction
  • Court determines if there is legal authority for the court to hear and decide the case
  • Court decides if abuse and neglect allegations are true
  • Must take place within 15 days of the Detention hearing if child is detained in custody
  • May take place within 30 days if child is not detained in custody
Disposition
  • Court decides child’s placement
  • Orders can be issued to provide family family maintenance services if child remains at home
  • Orders can be issued to provide family reunificationservices if child is placed out of the home
  • Must take place within 10 days of Jurisdictional hearing if child is in custody
  • May take place within 30 days of Jurisdictional hearing if child is not in custody
6 Month Review
  • Court reviews progress of family
  • Court decides if child is remains at home under supervision
  • Court decides if child can be returned home from out-of-home placement
12 Month Review
  • Court reviews progress of family
  • Court decides if child is remains at home under supervision
  • Court decides if child can be returned home from out-of-home placement
  • Court can decide to continue with reunification efforts
18 Month Review
  • Court reviews progress of family
  • Court decides if child is remains at home under supervision
  • Last hearing where the Court can decide if child can be returned home from out-of-home placement
Permanency Planning
  • Court decides if adoption or legal guardianship is appropriate permanent placement
  • Must be held within 120 days after family reunification services end
Post Permanency Review
  • Court is updated on child’s progress until child is adopted, assigned legal guardian or leaves the systerm.
  • Dependency is dismissed when either occurs

Any case under the jurisdiction of the Court must be reviewed by the Court at least every six months until jurisdiction is terminated. If the child is placed out of the home, the Court conducts a hearing to establish a permanent placement plan within 12 months. The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether or not the child can be returned home or if there is a substantial probability that the child can be returned with an additional six months of reunification services. If so, the Court will continue the permanent placement hearing no more than six months in the future.

A dependency case can be dismissed at anytime if the court finds the problems that brought the family to court have been resolved and the child is no longer at risk.
Juvenile Dependency Hearing Questions
Copyright 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles