The amount of turmoil and drama in the Family Court is insurmountable. The biggest issues are those where DHR becomes involved and the children are taken from the parents leading to
Dependency cases and then, if the parents don’t do what is requested, they become Termination of Parental Rights cases. The number one question that the parents want to know when their children are taken away in the heat of the night is when they’ll get to go to court and what happens next. People often feel that their rights are being violated because their kids were taken without them having to go to court in the first place. However, the law provides that DHR can remove a child from a parent’s custody as long as there is a Shelter Care Hearing in order to protect children from dangerous or harmful situations. What exactly does that mean?
- Shelter Care Hearings must be within 72 hours of removal of the child.
- This cannot be waived by any party. They’ll have to make sure that if they cannot have the hearing within 72 hours, the child must be placed back in the home.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, then one will be provided for you.
- Parents must receive oral or written permission of the hearing (NOTE: This does not mean that you have to be served! Most times parents are served with the actual allegations of the petition at the hearing.)
- The parents must be informed of what is in the petition. (NOTE: This does not have to be what is exactly in the petition but simply a description of why their kids were taken away. Example: Mother was hyped up on cocaine and slapped her 6 month old for crying. However, the DHR worker informs the mother that due to her failed drug test and abuse, her children are being taken from her custody.)
- There must be relevant and material evidence of any allegations in that petition, but note that the rules of evidence are quite relaxed in this court system. (If drugs were alleged, you’ll probably be taking a drug test, so come without drugs in your system. Please also note that three days isn’t enough to flush out drugs from your system nor should you attempt any of those online drug flushing elixirs. This is not DHR’s first rodeo.)
- The parent should come equipped with relative resources that can take their child if the parents are not allowed to leave with the child. (NOTE: These relatives should have a squeaky clean record. Don’t lie and say that they are clean because everything is checked and double checked. If Uncle Leroy has a drug trafficking charge, it does not matter if you swear up and down that he is a changed man, and that is okay by you that he get custody temporarily.)