Dependency and Neglect Issues in Colorado Springs Family Law
Although dependency and neglect matters are heard in juvenile courts, they do sometimes impact family law cases filed in domestic relations court.Dependency and Neglect Cases
Dependency and neglect (D&N) cases involve child abuse or neglect. The juvenile court has jurisdiction over children in matters pertaining to safety, protection, and stability.
A child is dependent or neglected when:
a parent, guardian, or legal custodian abandoned the child or subjected the child to mistreatment or abuse; or a parent, guardian, or legal custodian allowed another person to do so without taking action to prevent the treatment.
- the child lacks proper parental care.
- the child’s environment is injurious to his or her welfare.
- a parent, guardian, or legal custodian fails to provide necessary food, education, or medical care.
- the child is homeless or without proper care.
- the child has run away.
- the child was born affected by alcohol or unprescribed substances.
D&N cases involve the government and private parties. Both parents and children in these cases are entitled to a lawyer. If the parents can not afford an attorney, the state can provide an attorney free of charge. This is because of the high stakes; up to and including removal of their children in these cases. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is involved as the investigating agency and produces investigative reports. The reports include findings, recommended services and progress reports. A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) represents the children and makes recommendations to the court involving the best interests of the children.The D&N Process
D&N cases can result in an allocation of parental responsibilities, guardianship or the termination of parental rights. A D&N case begins when a government attorney files a petition. The parents, guardians, or legal custodians are required to appear in court to admit or deny the allegations against them. If DHS removes a child from the home, the court holds a preliminary protection hearing, where temporary removal of the home will be considered.
The court then decides at an adjudicatory hearing if the child is dependent or neglected. If so the child may remain in DHS custody. If the child is adjudicated, the court then approves a treatment plan for the caretakers. The court periodically reviews the case and determines at each review hearing whether the parents are in compliance with the treatment plan. If the child remains outside of the home, the court holds a permanency planning hearing. If the parent does not comply with the treatment plan, parental rights may be terminated.Intersection of Family Law and Dependency and Neglect Cases
If a caretaker is contacted by a DHS Caseworker, that person has to decide how to respond. The answer to this question depends sometimes on whether there is an open investigation and it is often best to consult with a criminal defense attorney. DHS must make contact with the child within 72 hours of a referral to DHS. If the caretaker does not make the child available, the caseworker may contact the child at school or obtain a court order to interview the child.
The caseworker can request a family meeting. This is an informal discussion in an attempt to resolve less serious issues outside of the court setting. Caretakers may consent to the provision of rehabilitative services and DHS monitoring. If the county files a D&N petition, the D&N case will proceed and the family law proceeding will be held in abeyance. D&N cases can result in guardianship to a third person or termination of parental rights. There is an administrative appellate process in D&N cases.Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs Divorce and Family Law
How can an attorney help in compensation matters? A Colorado Springs divorce and family law attorney can guide you through the Colorado court process to include assessing the relevance of compensation to the proceedings. This allows you to focus on moving forward to a better future rather than on spending your time trying to tackle the overly complex court system. Contact us at 719-344-5523 or complete our online form to set up a free thirty-minute informational consultation.