A Team Approach

Understanding Your Custody Rights

When the State of Florida determines that a child may be the subject of abuse, abandonment, and or neglect, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will intervene on the child’s behalf. Dependency is derived from the notion that a child has become dependent upon the State or Court to provide assistance, support, or protection. DCF takes these cases very seriously and will remove a child that they perceive to be in danger at the hand of a parent.

The DCF has a significant amount of power at their disposal for removing a child.  Subject to an investigation of domestic violence, DCF interventions and removals can be swift depending on the allegations and evidence.

Restoring Custody and Visitation Rights

Understanding the process for regaining custody is a serious exercise and one that should be done in conjunction with a proven dependency law attorney.  East Lake Law has the experience and expertise to help you navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding dependency court cases. The general process for a dependency case is as follows:

  • The child is removed from the parents.
  • The child is placed in sheltered foster care.
  • Parents are notified within 24 hours of the time and location of a shelter hearing.
  • Accountability performance plan is created and reviewed by all parties.
  • Parents must demonstrate commitment to participating in mental health treatment if required.
  • The child remains in sheltered foster care until parents have demonstrated compliance with Court orders.

Shelter Hearings

Within 24 hours of removal, a shelter hearing will take place. Parents of the removed child will be notified by child welfare services as to when and where the hearing will take place.  Through this hearing, a Dependency Court judge will identify concerns put forth by DCF and determine whether or not the child should remain in sheltered foster care for safety reasons. The presence of an attorney who understands family law and criminal law is important during a dependency hearing.

Court Order Assistance

Without proper legal representation, parents may jeopardize or delay their chances to regain custody of their children.  In some extreme cases, rights of the parents are terminated by the Court if the parents fail to engage with communication or orders issued to them.  If you are ordered to follow a stringent court order, you must adhere to each and every step to regain custody of your children. Dependency Courts may request the following as part of a court order:

  • Drug and alcohol addiction treatment;
  • Drug testing;
  • Mental health treatments;
  • Psychological evaluation; and
  • Supervised visitations

Contact Us

If you have any concerns about your ability to regain custody of your children, contact East Lake Law immediately. Dependency cases are time sensitive and require the immediate action of parents and their legal team.  Let us help you and your family today by navigating through the complex legal process that surrounds dependency cases.  Contact us today!