What is a dependency action?

A dependency action is usually brought by the state to take legal care and control of minor children from their parents or guardians because of abuse or neglect.

What are my rights as a parent in a dependency?

You as a parent have what are called fundamental rights in a dependency, you have the fundamental right to parent your children.

Am I allowed an attorney free of charge?

Yes, because dependencies affect your fundamental rights you get an attorney appointed if you cannot afford one.

What are my rights as a parent in a dependency?

Your parents have the permissive right to intervene into the case if they so wish as a third party.

Other Dependency Law Questions

Will I be able to see my children during the dependency?
It depends, if you are not seen as a direct threat to the children then visitation, usually supervised will be set up for you.
Will my parents be able to see their grandchildren during the dependency?
As long as your parents are also not seen as a threat to the children they too, if they ask will be allowed visitation.

What rights do the foster parents have in a dependency?
They have the right to intervene as a third party but it is not permissive, meaning they will have to show the court that they are doing so in the best interests of the child and will not cause the dependency to be bogged down because of their entry.

When is the soonest I can get my children back in a dependency?
As soon as the Department of Child Safety believes you are no longer a safety threat and you have made the desired behavior changes then a transition plan will be implemented to return the children to your care.

Why can't I see my children whenever I want during a dependency?
In most cases DCS wants to monitor your interaction with the children and this can only be done as a result of supervised visitations.

What happens if I only do some of my services with the department?
Only doing some of the required services may lead you to have your rights severed, better to fully comply with all services.

What happens if I complete all my services and I still don't have my children returned to me?
Usually this means that you have not made the required behavioral changes needed that the department is looking for.

How long do I have to get my kids back before they try to take my kids forever?
If your child is younger than 3 years of age then you have six months to be reunited with your children. If they are over the age of 3 then you have one year to reunite with your children.

What if I don't like the foster parents, can I ask that someone else take care of my children?
Yes, if the foster parents are not for the case plan you can always motion that the children be removed from their care.


What happens during the first hearing of a dependency?
At the preliminary protective hearing the parties will have already met and made certain agreements, then they go in front of the judge and put those agreements before the court. The court can then change what is required or set a hearing on what the temporary custody will be of the children.


Do my children get their own attorney?
Yes, the children will have their own attorney as well who will argue what the children want.

What is the difference between an attorney for the children and the children's guardian ad litem?
The children's attorney must put forth to the court what the children desire. The children's guardian ad litem puts forth what he/she believes is in the children's best interest, even if the best interests of the children are in opposite of what the children desire.

How long do I have to engage in services?
Parents are usually asked to engage in services until they have completed that particular service or until the department sees a change in the parents behavior.

What happens if the children no longer want to see me?
Initially most case plans are reunification with a parent, however, if the judge believes that this is not in the best interest of the child, as when a child adamantly does not want contact with their parent, then the case plan can be changed to termination of parental rights.

Do the foster parents get to parent the children any way they like or do I have some say?
The foster parents cannot make changes to the children's appearance if doing so would offend your religion or if you disagree with regard to say the children getting a certain type of haircut.

How long do dependencies usually take to run their course?
The length of a dependency takes as long as the court is required to allow the parents to engage in a case plan of reunification. Dependencies can be over several years in length or they can take less than one year to complete.

Do You Have Questions?

At West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman P.L.L.C., we can answer your questions. Our offices are located in Tucson, Arizona. Call us at 520-518-3781 or contact us online.