When Children Are Removed
No good parent wants their children removed from their home. However, if reasonable cause is given, it can happen. If you are placed in this horrible position, there is a specific procedure that is generally followed by the courts. Moreover, you are expected to comply. Therefore it is imperative that you understand your obligations and your rights during this difficult time.
Procedures Before the Dispositional Hearing
The end stage of the child protection process is referred to as the dispositional hearing. Before that, however, there are several different hearings to determine your fitness as a parent and whether or not your child's safety requires foster care.
The first hearing can occur as quickly as 48 hours after the child's removal, and it essentially assesses whether the child needs to be placed under the protection of the Department of Child & Family Services (DCFS). If the answer is no, then the child goes home with his or her parents and the file is closed. This finding is unusual, however; a judge will generally discover that there is at least reason to conduct an investigation.
In the time between removal and the dispositional hearing (usually about 150 days after removal, depending on case volume), the child's status is assessed multiple times, including once to determine whether he or she was actually abused or neglected.
The Dispositional Hearing
The dispositional hearing is the point where the child's status will be determined. He or she may either be released with or without supervision, or will be made a ward of the court, at which point the parents' parental rights will almost certainly be terminated.
The most common outcome at a dispositional hearing is for the child to be allowed to return home, but to still remain under the wardship of the court. This means that the court still has an interest in the child's safety and will request reports and evidence that all is well over time. If any aspect of the wardship is violated, then the process may start over again as the child may be removed from the home. Either way, the ultimate end goal is a permanent disposition to the case, with the child either aging out of the system, returning home to his or her parents, or being permanently placed with a foster parent or guardian.
Contact a Child Protection Attorney
When dealing with the welfare of their children, there is very little that a good parent will not do. If your child has been removed from your home, and you are willing to work hard to get him or her back, hiring a competent attorney can help. The skilled Illinois family law attorneys at MKFM Law are well versed in the ins and outs of juvenile court jurisprudence and can help to make your family whole again. Please contact us today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a free consultation.