Jonesboro Attorneys

What to Know About DHS Hearings | Jonesboro, AR

Child dependency and neglect charges are serious, possibly resulting in the permanent removal of your child from your home. In a dependency or neglect case, the state of Arkansas must prove there was probable cause for removing your child from your home and that probable cause continues to exist to keep custody of your child. Proceedings for a dependency and neglect case can be strenuous and contentious. Our experienced attorneys in Jonesboro, AR can help you understand the process of a DHS hearing.

Overview of a Typical Dependency & Neglect Hearing

An individual files a report with the Child Abuse Hotline and the Department of Human Services (DHS) investigates the report. If the child is not considered safe when left at home, he or she can be detained, or taken into temporary custody by DHS and placed in the care of relatives or in a foster home. If the child needs to be placed in foster care, DHS will obtain an “Ex Parte Emergency Order for Custody.”

Timelines and Hearings

Within five days after the Emergency Order is issued, there will be a “Probable Cause Hearing,” in which the court will determine whether DHS has probable cause to remove the child and whether the child can return to the home safely.

Within 30 days after the Probable Cause Hearing, an “Adjudication Hearing” will be held. At that hearing, which is also considered a trial, the court will either find the child was dependent, neglected or abused, or that he or she was not. If the court finds that the allegations were false, the child will be granted to return home. If the allegations are found to be true and the issue is not resolved, then the child will remain in foster care. On the other hand, if the allegations were true and the problems have been resolved, the child might be returned at this point. Additionally, the court will order the DHS to offer services to the parent(s) in order to assist them in remedying the situation, such as parenting classes, therapy, and drug testing.

At the “Six-Month Review Hearing,” the court will determine whether the parent has adhered to the six-month plan and whether they have received the services ordered by the court. If the problems have been remedied, then the child can return to the home.

If the problems are not resolved by one year, the court will set a “Permanency Planning Hearing” to determine the permanent plan for the child’s care. At the hearing, if the court decides that it is in the child’s best interests to be adopted, then a hearing for termination of parental rights is set.

Details Surrounding Parental Rights

If the parental rights are terminated at the “Termination Hearing,” the parental relationship is ended, and the parent and child are no longer related, meaning the relatives of the parent are also no longer related to the child.The court will continue to hold “Post-Termination Hearings” until the child is adopted. However, the terminated parent is not allowed to attend.

Due to the complexities of these proceedings, having an experienced family law attorney will be of great benefit. If you have a DHS hearing in Arkansas, you need to contact our Jonesboro family lawyer at The Law Office of Paul Ford today.