_________ County
Form Approved for Optional Use
Judicial Council of California
JV–055 [Rev. January 1, 2001]
If you have additional
questions about the
process, please ask
your lawyer or the judge.
Social worker:
The date of my next hearing is:
Additional Information:
The social worker cannot give you legal advice but will
explain procedures.
Some important telephone numbers:
Juvenile court:
You must tell the court
and the social worker
where your mail should
be sent so you will
receive all the important
documents about your
child. If you change
your mailing address,
you must tell your social
worker immediately.
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As a court dependent:
The court may allow your child to reside in your home
under court supervision; or
The court may place your child outside of your home.
One of the goals of the
dependency court is to have the
matter regarding your child
resolved as quickly as possible.
We need your help and
cooperation to do that. The court
has become involved with you and
your child because certain things
have happened in your life that led
to this involvement; you will be
required to follow specific steps to
end court involvement. You must follow these steps within
certain time limits. The steps and the time limits will be
explained to you.
At that hearing, the court has only three choices, in
the following order of preference:
To terminate your parental rights and order the
child placed for adoption ("Terminating your
parental rights" means that legally you are no
longer the child's parent);
To appoint a legal guardian for your child; or
To place your child in long-term foster care.
If your child becomes a dependent of the court, that
means that the court will make orders for you, for your
child, and for the social worker, so that your child will be
protected. In most cases, you will have an opportunity to
end court involvement.
If, during the time your child is a dependent of the court,
reunification services are not ordered, or reunification
efforts fail, your child could be adopted.
The specific reasons you are in court are stated in the
petition and in other papers you may have received.
If a relative adopts your child, you, the adoptive
parent(s), and the child may agree to postadoption
contact between you and your child. Your lawyer can
explain this "Kinship Adoption Agreement" to you if
adoption by a relative is the permanent plan.
If the court decides that your
child will not be returned to you
and another plan for the child is
required, the court MUST set a
hearing within four months to
decide what should happen to
your child.
How does the court make a permanent plan for my
If your child was over three years old, and the child
is not returned to you after six months, the court can
order services for six more months.
BECAUSE if the court orders a hearing for a
permanent plan, your child will not be returned to
you and there will be NO more assistance by the
social worker or the court to help you reunify with
your child.
Services to reunify your
child with you will end
after 12 months unless
the court decides there
is a substantial
probability that your
child can be returned to
you by the end of 18
months from the time
the police officer or
social worker took your
child away.
In order for the court to consider returning your child
to you, you must follow the orders of the court
without delay.
If services are ended, the court will set a hearing to make
a permanent plan for the child.
1. Do I need a lawyer?
You have the right to have a lawyer
represent you in court, and the first
court hearing in your case may be
postponed for a short time so that
you may hire one. If you cannot
afford a lawyer, the court may
appoint one for you. You may have
to repay the court for the costs of
your lawyer according to your ability
to pay.
2. Will anyone else have a lawyer?
The county counsel may be representing the social
worker and the court may also appoint a lawyer to
represent your child. The lawyer's job is to represent the
interests of your child. A Court Appointed Special
Advocate, called a CASA volunteer, may also be
appointed by the court to assist your child.
3. What will happen at the first hearing?
If your child has been taken away
from you, at the first court
hearing the judge will decide
whether your child will be
returned to you until the next
court hearing, or whether your
child will remain away from you.
Be sure to tell the social worker or your lawyer about
any of the child's relatives who might be able to care
for your child until the next hearing (or longer) if your
child is not returned to you at the first hearing.
If your child was under three years old when he or
she was first removed from your care, and you have
not participated regularly in court ordered treatment,
or if you have not contacted or visited your child for
the last six months, the court can end services. If a
brother or sister of the child under three was also
removed, services may end for that child also.
In most cases you will be able to have visits with
your child if the child is not returned to you.
4. What happens then?
You have a right to have a trial where the judge will
decide whether the statements in the petition are true.
If there is to be a trial, a date will be set for that
Whether your child is with you or not, if you admit that
all or part of the statements in the petition are true, or
allow the judge to make a decision based on the reports
presented, there will not be a trial on those issues.
The social worker will prepare a report for the court, based
on an investigation that will include talking to you and to
others. The report will include recommendations about
where your child should be living for the next six months
(when the next court hearing will be held) and what you
and others can do to help solve the problems that brought
you and your child into court.
There will be a case plan that will be worked out by you
and the social worker; this plan will be presented to the
court. The court will probably order that all or part of the
case plan be carried out. The case plan may include
such things as the following:
Parenting classes
If your child is removed from your custody and
there is a case plan ordered, the social worker
will be required to include in the case plan: (1)
services to help you reunify with your child and
(2) services to achieve legal permanence for
your child should reunification fail. Legal
permanence may include adoption or
appointment of a legal guardian.
5. What do I need to do then?
The social worker and others will be required to
assist you to obtain the services listed in your case
The court will review your case
at least every six months. At the
first review hearing, the court
will consider whether court
dependency for your child is still
required and, if your child has
been removed from your home,
whether your child may be
returned home.
Individual counseling
Family counseling
Treatment for abuse of
alcohol and other drugs
Special programs and classes
Visitation with your child
It is important that you get started on your case
plan as soon as possible. Following the case
plan, within the required time lines, is the key to
reunification with your child.
If, at any time after your child is removed from you, you
decide that you are not interested in reunifying with your
child, you can talk with your social worker. You should
also talk with your lawyer, who can explain your right to
(1) waive reunification services, (2) relinquish your
parental rights, and (3) assist in the development of a
permanent plan for your child.
If the judge decides that the statements in the petition are
true, the judge will probably make your child a dependent
child of the court, which means that your control over your
child will be limited and the child may be removed from
your custody.
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