Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse

When parents and caregivers are accused of dependency, neglect, or abuse, their basic right to parent their children is in peril. The placement of the child and the accused parties’ access to the child are at issue at every stage of the process. The goal of any dependency, neglect, and abuse case is to reunify families, but the process is often long and arduous.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services, commonly referred to as “CPS”, and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office “JCAO” work in concert to bring allegations of dependency, neglect, or abuse against an accused parent or caretaker. This process typically occurs following an investigation by CPS.

Prior to the commencement of a formal proceeding, a “prevention plan” should be offered by CPS. This plan often includes community interventions such as counseling and substance abuse treatment. Often, a “staffing,” or meeting between CPS and the child’s parents and caretakers is scheduled to discuss the plan.

If community interventions are not successful or appropriate, allegations will be formally filed with the family court. Parents, accused caretakers, and children are entitled to appointed counsel to protect their due process rights.

Dependency, neglect, and abuse litigation is a complicated process that is best described as a quasi-criminal proceeding. Beginning with a temporary removal hearing, the Court receives input from the JCAO, CPS, the child’s Guardian ad Litem, and the parents’ attorneys. The Court determines where the child will reside during the pendency of the case and issues orders to facilitate the return of the child.

The case will have several court dates to review the parent’s or caretaker’s compliance with Court orders. The JCAO will often offer to resolve the case if the parent makes an admission or if the parent successfully completes his or her Court ordered treatment plan. Eventually, if the matter remains unresolved, a trial is held where the Court hears evidence and ultimately decides if the child is dependent, neglected, and/or abused and who was responsible. Following a finding of dependency, neglect, or abuse, a disposition will occur at which time the Court will either return the child or cement the tasks necessary for a parent to complete for their child to be returned to them.

Dependency, neglect, and abuse cases are some of the most serious cases in family court and can often be the first step toward the termination of parental rights. It is imperative that every party involved be well represented at every stage of the process.

The attorneys of Kellner Green have years of experience litigating dependency, neglect, and abuse cases. It is crucial that parents and caregivers have knowledgeable counsel to help them navigate this complex process.

Contact Us