Dependency Lawyer in Georgia

What is the Division of Family and Child Services?

In Georgia, the Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS) is a social service meant to provide assistance to families in need, such as providing food stamps or social services to low-income parents. DFCS is also the agency charged with reporting and investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect.

What is Dependency? 

When a parent has been accused of child abuse or neglect, DFCS has the legal authority to remove the child from a home, even without an initial hearing, to investigate the allegations.  Should DFCS believe that the allegations of child abuse and neglect are true, DFCS can initiate juvenile dependency proceeding to have a  juvenile court determine whether a child is a dependent child and in need of protection from the Court. If the Court determines that the child is a dependent child, the Court can place the child in foster care until the underlying issues causing dependency are remedied. If the parents are not able to resolve the safety issues that warranted the Court placing the child into foster care, the parent's rights call be terminated.

What Are the Different Types of Dependency Hearings?

Preliminary Protective Hearing/Shelter Care Hearing - Proceeding to determine:

1) whether there is probable cause to believe that a child is possibly dependent;

2) whether protective custody is necessary to prevent abuse or neglect pending adjudication and;
3) Placement for the child from now until the time of the dependency adjudication

Adjudication Hearing- Fact-finding proceeding to determine whether the facts alleged in the petition warrant a determination of dependency and/or protection/intervention by the Court.

Disposition Hearing-Proceeding to determine:

1) What placement is best suited to the protection and physical, mental, and moral welfare of a child adjudicated dependent; and
2) What steps/services are necessary to remedy the safety concern causing the child to be dependent (case plan).

Periodic Review Hearings or Panels- Mandated judicial reviews of children in foster care and parents' progress on their case plans.  Subsequent periodic reviews may be conducted by the court or citizen review panel.

Permanency Hearing- Special type of post-dispositional proceeding designed to reach a decision concerning the permanent placement of a child.

Termination of Parental Rights Hearing (TPR) -Legal proceeding resulting in the permanent severance of the parent-child relationship.

How Can an Attorney Help in A Dependency Case?

Dependency cases are some of the most important cases that any family will ever have to endure. The trauma associated with separation, uncertainty, and loss of autonomy can devastate parents and children alike, and the wrong decisions can lead to a child been returned to an abusive home or an innocent parent having their parental rights terminated forever.

When dealing with DFCS, it is important that parents and children have attorneys who understand the child welfare system and can help protect your rights as well as those of your children. We offer advocacy and representation for parents, children, and children's best interests in dependency cases.

 If you have questions about protection your rights as a parent, or the rights and interest of your child,  contact us today. We can help guide you through this process so that you get the best possible outcome.