Juvenile Dependency


The court system in California is prepared to oversee a wide variety of cases involving juveniles,  the most common cases  include Juvenile DependencyJuvenile Delinquency, Guardianship and status offenses. 

Juvenile Court cases are complex and emotionally charged, and if you are involved in one of these cases, you need to make sure you are working with an experienced attorney who can represent your interests and do everything possible to reunite you with your child. To discuss your situation and options with an experienced and compassionate attorney, contact the Oceanside juvenile dependency lawyers of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, at 760-904-3094.

We Can Help!

Whether you are trying to prove paternity, regain custody of your child, or you are involved in other juvenile actions, our Oceanside juvenile dependency attorneys may be able to help. We have experience helping the following parties in these kinds of cases:

  • A relative of a child in question
  • The foster parent(s)
  • The offending parent(s)
  • The non-offending parent(s)

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When authorities believe that a child is being neglected or abused by their parents or guardians, the courts may choose to pursue a juvenile dependency case. This may result in a child being removed from his or her home, and parents or caretakers losing their rights to see their children. 

Becoming involved in a juvenile dependency case is an emotionally trying and time-consuming process, and it is important to secure experienced legal assistance to ensure that your rights and the rights of your child are protected.

Juvenile Court Dependency Process

  • Juvenile Dependency cases begin with a referral to Child Protective Services (CPS) due to allegations of child abuse or neglect.
  • If CPS decides to remove your child, they must file a petition in Juvenile Court and then calendar a Detention Hearing.
  • At the Detention Hearing the Juvenile Court will decide whether or not your child can be immediately returned home. If the child is not returned home at the Detention Hearing, the child will remain in foster care until the Jurisdictional Hearing which will be set within 15 days.
  • Jurisdictional Hearing

Numerous other hearings in the process include:

  • Dispositional Hearing and
  • periodic review hearings.

At each stage in the process the Court will be considering whether to return the child home and what reunification services need to be completed to keep the child safe and reunite the family. However, you have a limited period of time to have your child returned to you. If the family is not successful, the end result of a juvenile dependency case can be termination of your parental rights.

Our Dependancy Attorney’s Can Help.

As soon as your child is removed it is important to get legal advice immediately. Being involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) and losing custody of your child is a terrifying experience. You need to be educated immediately about your rights, the juvenile dependency process, and start problem solving your case right away. Our first goal at Fischer and Van Thiel is to get your child home. Often we can come up with a plan of services to address the problems and get you started on those services as soon as possible so we can get your child returned to you.

Depending on the situation, the next best option may be to pursue a temporary relative placement in the early stages of the case. Or another option may be to have a relative move into the family home and assist with the care of the child. We can help you by explaining the relative evaluation process and immediately identifying appropriate relatives to assist in the care of the child.

Every Juvenile Dependency case is different as every family is different. Sometimes the allegations in the petition are contested by one or both parents. It is still important to try and keep the child in a home or family placement while you go through the litigation process. Here at Fischer and Van Thiel we have experience litigating many different types of child abuse cases including 300 (d)—sex abuse, and severe abuse cases such as 300e (severe physical abuse to a child under 5), and 300 (f) (cases involving dead children).

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Receiving an unexpected phone call from Child Protective Services or finding a business card on your door can be a very frightening experience. Until you talk to them, you have no idea what is going on or what to do.

The process starts with a CPS referral regarding child abuse or neglect and the referral can be made by anyone and the identity of the referring party is confidential under California law.

If this happens to you it is important to seek legal advice immediately. You need to understand your rights, the different options that CPS has, and get advice on how best to handle the situation. CPS has many options with the disposition of referrals but they must investigate every referral no matter what the content. Some of the options available to CPS include:

  • “evaluate out” a referral
  • offer voluntary services to the family, or ultimately
  • file a petition in juvenile dependency court and remove your child.

CPS has a lot of power over the lives of families and children. It is important that you get the proper advice about your legal rights and how to best present your situation to the social worker and alleviate any concerns that CPS may have so that you can keep your child in your custody. The attorneys at Fischer and Van Thiel are prepared to guide you through the process and obtain the best result for you and your family.

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Not everyone that becomes a parent is ready to be a parent. Or some parents become unable to parent due to health issues, substance abuse issues, or incarceration. It is more common than ever these days that relatives are raising children instead of their parents. When a child is being raised by someone other than a parent, the best way to formalize the situation is to seek a guardianship through probate court.

The probate court can appoint a guardian to care for and make decisions for the child while the parent is unable to do so. The Court can also determine visitation for the parents. Having a formal guardianship in place ensures safety, and stability for the child.

Unlike adoption, guardianships are not permanent and do not involve termination of parental rights. Once the parent participates in services or otherwise resolves their issues, they can apply to Probate Court to terminate the guardianship and have the child returned to their care. This is often a great option for relatives, such as grandparents who want to see the parent get back on their feet but don’t want to care for the child until the age of majority. Probate guardianship should also be considered when a parent is being investigated by CPS as a method of preventing removal of the child and the filing of a petition in juvenile dependency court. At Fisher and Van Thiel , our experience attorneys will guide you through the paperwork and legal process to establish guardianship in the best interests of the child and family.

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Sometimes our kids, especially teenagers make mistakes. Immaturity can lead to bad decision making which can lead to teens committing crimes. When you teenager commits a crime he or she will be arrested, possibly placed in Juvenile Hall, and face charges in Juvenile Delinquency Court. This can be an upsetting and terrifying experience. It is important to get legal advice and assistance as soon as possible. Your child needs to know his or her rights and the whole family needs to understand the juvenile delinquency process. At Fischer and Van Thiel we have years of experience in advocating on behalf of children in juvenile delinquency court and are happy to assist you.

We Can Help!

Your first and foremost concern may be that your child is sitting in Juvenile Hall awaiting a Detention Hearing. We will work with the child, the family, and the Juvenile Court to get your child home as quickly as  possible. If your child is suffering from a substance abuse problem, we can provide referrals and work on getting them into treatment.  Another concern in Juvenile Court is the effect that juvenile convictions may have upon your child’s future. There are diversion options especially for first-time offenders in juvenile court that can minimize the future consequences for your child. We also will work closely with the child and the family to make sure probation conditions are understood so that the child can finish probation successfully and get his or her record sealed.  We will vigorously advocate for your child to get the best result possible.

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Are you a foster parent that has been caring for a child or children for a significant period of time? Do you want to be a voice for the child in Court? In Juvenile Dependency Court, foster parents can apply to become de facto parents. There is an application and the Court will have a hearing on your request. If you become a child’s defacto parent, you have the right to attend and participate in hearings, including trials, and to be represented by counsel. You also request to view the juvenile court file and receive social worker reports. Participation as a defacto parent provides the Court more information about the child and keeps you closely involved in the legal process and the ultimate outcome for the child. Attorneys at Fischer and Van Thiel have extensive experience in Juvenile Dependency Court and working with defacto parents. We can assist you with your initial application and provide representation at all future Juvenile Court Hearings.

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Contact Us

The Oceanside Juvenile Court Attorney’s of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, are ready to handle your legal concerns for you at this difficult time. Contact our offices at 760-904-3094 to review your options with an attorney you can trust to provide comprehensive and effective legal service.

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