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The Law Office of Laura A. Olson, P.A. Proudly Serving The Tampa Community
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Tampa Dependency Attorney

Dependency cases are ones that involve children who have been abused or neglected. According to the Harris Professional Development Network, 80 percent of the brain is developed by the time a child is three years old and 90 percent has been developed by age 5. Unfortunately, children under the age of five make up half of the child welfare population and with that comes a higher potential for abuse or neglect. Such treatment can negatively impact a child’s development, sleep routines, and their ability to regulate their emotions and impulses. To help handle cases where a child may be in danger of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, Florida has dependency court. If you are facing a dependency court hearing, you need a skilled Tampa dependency attorney who is not only family with family law, but has experience specifically with dependency court and understands the importance of the child being within your care.

How Does a Dependency Case Get to Court?

The process begins when a person calls a hotline to report child abuse, neglect, or abandonment. At that point, either a county sheriff or child protective investigator will visit the child’s home to determine whether the child is safe in that environment. A child may be removed at this point or there may be a petition filed for shelter or dependency. 

Types of Hearings

  • Shelter Hearing—According to The Center for Child Welfare, a shelter hearing happens within 24 hours of a child’s removal from their home. A judge will determine whether the child should remain in shelter status and what visitation rights might be appropriate for the situation at this time.
  • Arraignment Hearing—This occurs within 28 days of the initial shelter hearing. At this time, the parents or guardians can either enter a plea of admit, consent, or deny. If the plea is admit or consent, the case goes to a disposition hearing. If the child’s custodian denies any allegations, the case goes to an adjudicatory hearing.
  • Adjudicatory Hearing—This is the trial where the judge hears all evidence and determines if there is a preponderance of evidence that the child has been abused, abandoned, neglected, or in immediate danger of such treatment.
  • Disposition Hearing—These hearings occur within 15 days of an arraignment hearing or 30 days of an adjudicatory hearing. At this point the judge determines placement for the child along with additional services or protections that they might require.
  • Permanency Hearing—Every six months there are judicial reviews, but within the first year there must also be a permanency hearing to determine the child’s permanent living arrangements. Options include adoption, reunification, permanent guardianship, or being placed with a willing and able relative.

The Law Office of Laura A. Olson, P.A. Can Handle Your Dependency Case

If your child has been taken away from home because there are allegations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment it is time to seek legal help. A skilled Tampa dependency lawyer will help advocate for you and do everything possible to reunite you with your child. Contact The Law Office of Laura A. Olson, P.A. at 813-222-0888 to schedule a free consultation today.

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