Provide high quality dependency and termination defense legal services.

State and federal law create a timeframe within which certain hearings must be held and decisions made.  Essentially, parents have approximately one year in which to make the changes in their lives that will permit the safe return of their children.  A permanency hearing must be held within one year after the child is removed.  If the court finds that the child cannot be safely returned, it must determine the appropriate permanent plan.

Below is a dependency proceedings timeline, including a broad overview of the legal process.  You should discuss this process more in depth with your attorney.

  • CPS Referral
    From citizens, police, professionals.  Child Protective Services (CPS) assesses risk factors and decides whether to file a dependency petition and/or placement.
  • Child Picked Up
    By CPS, police, hospital administrator or licensed physician.
  • Shelter Care Hearing (within 72 hours of child being picked up not including weekends and holidays)
  • Continued Shelter Care Order (for shelter care beyond 30 days)
  • Fact Finding Hearing (within 75 days of filing of dependency petition)
    Disposition may follow immediately after the fact finding. 
  • Disposition (within 14 days after dependency is ordered)
    Requires Individual Service and Safety Plan (created by the DSHS social worker) be provided to the court and parties 10 working days prior to hearing.
  • First Dependency Review Hearing (90 days from disposition or 6 months after original placement, whichever is first)
    Court will review compliance and progress of dispositional order. 
  • Dependency Review (at least every 6 months)
  • Permanency Planning Hearing (every 12 months from original placement date)
    Plan could be: return home, adoption, guardianship, long term foster/relative care, independent living, or third-party custody.
    It is not uncommon for a court to order more than one permanent plan.
  • Termination Petition
    If the child is out of home for 15 of 22 months, then a termination petition must be filed unless the court finds a compelling reason not to. 

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