In any case involving the Utah Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), you will be facing an uphill battle. The DCFS generally gets involved in family matters if there is evidence that a child is being abused or neglected or is otherwise dependent (which means that the child is homeless or does not receive proper care from his parents).
The DCFS is represented by the Utah attorney general’s office and is authorized to bring a petition asking the court to make a finding that a child is abused, neglected, or dependent, determine custody, and order protective services for the child.
The Pre-Trial Conference
Once the DCFS files a petition in the court you will be summoned to attend a pretrial conference. At the pretrial conference the judge will explain the nature of the claims against you and give you an opportunity to respond to the petition. The judge may also make temporary orders which can include removing the children from you and giving them to the other parent temporarily.
It is extremely important that you have an attorney at the pretrial conference to ensure that your rights are protected and no orders are entered without your counsel’s legal argument.
Settlement and Mediation
Most DCFS Juvenile Court cases in Utah will go to mediation where the parties will try to enter into a settlement agreement. Typically this involves the accused parents entering into a plan. For example, if it is alleged that the accused parent or parents have drug or alcohol problems part of the plan will include a drug/alcohol assessment and drug treatment. If the accused parents comply with the plan the case will generally be dismissed six months down the road.
If a settlement is not able to be reached a trial (adjudication hearing) will be scheduled. At the trial witnesses may be called to give testimony and the juvenile court will then make a decision as to whether the children are abused, neglected, or dependent.
After trial there may be review hearings and a reunification plan entered to try to help the parents and the children get back together. If the parents are able to comply with the plans established they will be able to get their children back together and move forward with their lives.
Utah Divorce Hotline Can Help You in Your Juvenile Court DCFS Case
Our attorneys are experienced in handling DCFS cases. If you have been served with a juvenile court petition in an abuse, neglect, or dependency proceeding, call us at 801.810.5348 to schedule a time to meet with a Utah family law attorney.