Child Dependency

It has been famously said that our children are our most valuable resource and our best hope for the future. And the child-protection laws of Arizona reflect that sentiment. A dependency proceeding is a court proceeding that asks whether the child is in need of proper and effective parental care. See A.R.S. § 8-201. The issue of dependency usually arises in circumstances in which a parent is either unwilling or unable to properly parent a child. Some of the sad circumstances that often give rise to dependency proceedings include:

  • Neglect of the child
  • Abandonment of the child
  • Physical or sexual abuse of the child
  • Drug or alcohol problem of the parent

The state will typically initiate a dependency proceeding; and the first step in many dependency cases is for the Department of Economic Security (DES), through its Child Protective Services (CPS), to step in and take protective custody of the child. CPS will then usually conduct an investigation into the circumstances that gave rise to the dependency issue. In Arizona, dependency hearings are heard exclusively in juvenile court. See A.R.S. § 8-202.

When a dependency proceeding is initiated, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office represents DES. The Court will then receive evidence and ultimately decide whether it is safe and appropriate to return the child to the parent or whether it is in the child’s best interest to place the child in an alternative living situation. If the child remains at home, it is not unusual for the Court to continue to monitor the situation.

Dependency proceedings are emotionally difficult for the parties involved. If you are involved in a dependency proceeding, having an attorney to represent your interests and help you navigate the system can be invaluable in assuaging these difficult circumstances. The attorneys at Giordano & Heckele, PLLC can help. Call today for a consultation: (520) 433-9031. Or email us at [email protected]