Articles Posted in Juvenile Dependency

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Fremont Family Law attorney explains the juvenile dependency court process.

Juvenile dependency is the process by which a child is removed from his or her parent’s custody and care, and is declared a “dependent of the court”. These cases often involve children who have been abandoned, neglected or injured by their parents, foster parents or legal guardians. Juvenile dependency cases may also be brought when parents or caretakers are unable to meet the needs of a special needs child.

A juvenile dependency case typically begins with someone filing a report with a law enforcement or child protective services agency, which will investigate to determine if abuse or neglect is occurring. If the agency determines that abuse or neglect is happening, the child can be removed to the care of a foster home. It is at this time that the agency can petition the court for “dependent of the court” status for the child.

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San Jose Family Law Attorney Discusses Parental Rights Likely to be Terminated in Child Abuse Case

A couple in Texas is set for trial on termination of parental rights following CPS intervention and removal of the parties’ three children. A year ago, the children were removed at the ages of 2, 1, and infancy, when they tested positive for amphetimines and methamphetimines. When CPS takes the children away, the situation is pretty much as bad as it gets. As the parents fight for custody of their children, the foster parents are ready and willing to adopt the children.

The juvenile dependency system is a complicated system that balances parental rights, safety and welfare of the children. Federal law controls much of the juvenile dependency system, particularly the time frame, the various hearings, and when a permanency plan is considered. In California, the state may seek to terminate parental rights after reunification services have been provided, parents have been notified, the child has been found to be adoptable, and a hearing has been set. By statute, the preference is that when the family cannot be reunified, parental rights are terminated and the child is placed for adoption. The burden of proof is “clear and convincing evidence,” which is below “reasonable doubt” but higher than “preponderance of the evidence,” the lowest and most common standard. Another way to think about clear and convincing evidence is “leaves no substantial doubt.”

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San Jose Family Law Attorney Discusses Juvenile Dependency:

Juvenile Dependency involves children that have suffered physical or emotional harm, that have been abandoned by their parents or caretaker, or have special and unique problems that the parents or caretakers cannot deal with. Juvenile Dependency also deals with the adoption of children that cannot be returned to their parents, or have been abandoned by their parents. The people with a right to representation in a Juvenile Dependency proceeding are the children, both parents, guardians, caretakers or relatives of the children at issue. If you need advice from a San Jose Family Law Attorney regarding Juvenile Dependency, please call us today 408.279.2288.

Generally, a Juvenile Dependency case starts when there is a report to a social service agency or a law enforcement agency, that a child has been abused, abandoned, neglected or has such special needs that the parent or caretaker is unable to provide care for. An informal investigation takes place and the child may be removed from the home and placed in foster care or with a relative until the matter can be heard in court.

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The rapidly proliferating use of methamphetamines in Santa Cruz County is having a devastating impact on families in the county, according to a new report entitled “the Methamphetamine Snapshot.” The study, released on September 21, seems to indicate to Bill Manov, administrator of the Santa Cruz County Alcohol and Drug Program, that things are not headed in a positive direction. In Manov’s eyes, “we haven’t seen it peak yet,” a statement that is based on the fact that meth gained popularity in Santa Cruz County later than in the rest of the country, is cheap, and is in fairly high supply. In terms of methamphetamine’s effect on families, the sample sets used in the study provide grim indications of what will happen if meth use does, in fact, continue to rise. Approximately one-third of individuals currently enrolled in a Domestic Violence Batterers’ Program reported that they previously used meth, over 50 % of children enrolled in the Youth Services treatment program are admitted users, and close to half of the 362 minors involved in Family and Children Services with Santa Cruz County had parents with a history of proven or alleged methamphetamine use. Nearly 60 percent of the children in the latter study were under the age of 5.
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An Iowa woman whose 5-year-old daughter was kidnapped and killed in 2005 has been ordered to give up her parental rights to her two sons, who have been in foster care since their sister’s murder. Miller has been granted one more visit with her sons, ages 2 and 3, who will become eligible for adoption.

The boys’ sister, Evelyn, then 5, disappeared from their apartment in July 2005. Miller says that she came home after her overnight job to discover the front door partially open and her boyfriend and their two sons asleep. A massive search ensued, and Evelyn’s body was eventually found in the Cedar River. Her death was declared a homicide. No charges have been filed in connection to her murder and the investigation continues to this day.

Casey Frederiksen, the father of the boys, voluntarily signed away his parental rights, but Miller, who has been hospitalized for mental health problems, opposed the juvenile judge’s decision that she give up her children. According to the judge, the two boys had spent more than six months removed from their parents’ physical custody and that neither parent had kept up a significant amount of meaningful contact or tried to resume caring for them.

Frederiksen is serving time in prison for a child pornography conviction. His friend Danny Slick, who was one of the last people to see Evelyn alive the night she disappeared, has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the police investigating her death. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 21, 2007.
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A California mother and her four underage children are suing Lassen County, a number of people affiliated with Children’s Protective Services, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors, the director of the California State Department of Social Services, a foster mother, and Environmental Services-a regional agency that handles placements for CPS. Amy McConnell and her children are asking for at least $11 million.

The suit accuses the defendants of violating the plantiffs’ rights under the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit is also alleging that the defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress and were negligent in fulfilling their mandatory duties under state law.

According to the complaint that was filed in United States District Court, Eastern District of California in 2003, McConnell left three of her children with her husband to pay a gas bill. While she was away, her husband went to the neighbor’s house to use the phone. The oldest child was in school. While both parents were away, Amy McConnell’s father found the three children alone and took them to CPS without telling the parents. When both parents returned home, they couldn’t find their children and went into the neighborhood to look for them. The oldest child was picked up by CPS at school. Lassen County filed a juvenile dependency petition in Lassen Superior Court, but the plaintiff was not informed of the hearing, and the hearing ended up not taking place.
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