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Juvenile Dependency Law

Time is never on your side. If CPS contacts you, contact us immediately.

These heart-wrenching cases apply the Welfare and Institutions Code--not the Family Code or Penal Code--so most attorneys are not uniquely qualified to handle these critically important cases.

Attorney Kuyateh's training exceeds the California Rule of Court §5.660(d)(3) training requirement for attorneys practicing in Juvenile Dependency Court.  Additionally, her understanding of the system from the inside out having previously worked for Child Protective Services gives her unique insight on how to advocate for your family against child abuse and neglect accusations.

Call us right away if your family is being investigated.

Understanding The Child Welfare System


CPS Investigations On Your Family

If CPS begins to investigate your family regarding your child(ren), it is highly advisable to consult an attorney before taking any action, including speaking with the CPS social worker about the allegations. As with a police contact, anything you say can be used against you in both the dependency court action and in criminal court, should criminal charges be filed. Contact our office immediately if your family is being investigated for any of the following: 

All Accusations of Abuse and Neglect Including:

  • Substance and alcohol abuse

  • Broken bone/Osteogenesis Imperfecta

  • Shaken Baby accusations

  • Head injury/Subdural Hematoma

  • Sexual abuse and false accusations

  • Mental health issues

  • Domestic Violence

  • Battered Woman Syndrome

  • Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

  • Child death cases

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Once a Petition is Filed

A dependency action is a court procedure provided to allow the state of California to step in for the protection of children who may be in danger of harm in their current home situation. When a dependency action is filed, a written request is submitted to juvenile court. This petition is for the following types of claims for the benefit of “dependent” children. 

Once a petition is filed, a number of hearings will occur. Some of these include:

  • Initial hearing within 24 hours of petition/child custody

  • Jurisdiction hearing within 15 days after initial hearing

  • Disposition hearing 30 days after Dependency Action Petition filing

    • Child remains in home or is placed out of the home, which can include qualified family members (but often will be foster care initially)

    • Or child is returned to home supervision

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If Your Family Is "In The System"

You should have an expert attorney at subsequent hearings. These include:

  • 6­ month, 12­ month, and 18­ month review hearings

    • The primary goal is to strive to fully reunify the child with the family if at all possible.

    • The scheduled reviews are to monitor the process to assure the court’s reunification plan is successful.

    • Once reunited, dependency status may be dismissed

  • Permanency Planning/Selection & Implementation Hearing after 18­month review

    • Adoption, guardianship, long-­term foster care options can be pursued

  • Post permanency Review Hearing will occur every six months when determined necessary

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If Your Child Is Under 3 Years Old

For children under three at the time of removal, the statutory time limit on renunciation services for parent is six months from the date of disposition unless the parent has made substantial progress and the court finds the child may be returned to a safe home by the date of the 12 month review hearing or reasonable services have not been provided to the parents.

Courtroom Chairs

Appeals and Termination of Parental Rights

TIme is of the essence.

There are strict timelines and procedures to follow when appealing an order from dependency court in California. Under Welfare and Institutions Code section 395, the dispositional order in a dependency proceeding is appealable as a judgment and every post-dispositional order is directly appealable as an “order after judgment.”  Thus, the first appealable order in the dependency process is the dispositional order. 

The time lines for appealing all orders terminating parental rights are more stringent than for generic appeals.  The reason for the stricter procedural timelines is so that the reviewing court can decide the appeal within 250 days after the notice of appeal is filed.  These more stringent time lines also apply to all dependency appeals in Orange, Imperial, and San Diego counties and may also apply in other counties by local rules.

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