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Juvenile Dependency Attorneys in Murrieta

The ultimate priority of California’s juvenile dependency court system is to protect children from neglect or abuse. Ideally, the process will expose all necessary information and allow the judge to come to an appropriate conclusion. As with any legal system, however, the judge may not make the decision you know is best for you and your family. The separation from your child can be incredibly stressful, and, without the right preparation, you may never achieve reunification.

While these cases are an unfortunately common occurrence in family law, very few private attorneys have specialized knowledge and experience in this field. At Singleton Smith Law Offices, however, Attorney Susan McPhee has more than 25 years of experience in juvenile court.

With her skills, our team is fully equipped with valuable resources and an in-depth understanding of California reunification laws. We know exactly what a Murrieta judge will want to see before issuing the order you need—so if your goal is to bring your child back home as soon as possible, we will do everything in our power to help you succeed.

Don’t wait to obtain dedicated counsel and representation. Schedule your complimentary consultation or call (951) 779-1610 to get started on your case as soon as possible.

How Does Juvenile Dependency Court Work?

Understanding the procedures within this type of case is crucial for the wellbeing of both you and your child. If you know exactly what to expect, you can better cope with the stress of the ordeal and make thoughtful, well-informed decisions. We will work closely with you to ensure you are fully prepared for multiple investigations and court hearings, and our goal is to arm you with the resources you need to achieve the best possible outcome for your family.

A juvenile dependency court case begins when police or social workers receive reports of abuse or neglect. This report will either accuse you of abusing or neglecting your child, or it will accuse you of failing to protect your child from someone else’s abuse or neglect.

The police and/or social workers will begin investigative procedures, which may involve:

  • Evaluating your home
  • Interviewing you, your family, or people you know
  • Interviewing your child at their school

After gathering evidence, the social worker will determine the most appropriate course of action. They will either:

  • Do nothing, because they found no evidence of abuse or neglect;
  • Provide voluntary services to help you better protect and care for your child;
  • File a petition to open a court case without removing the child from your care; or
  • Remove the child from your care and file a petition to open a court case.

Social services will remove your child from your care if they believe the child is in immediate danger. Your child may stay with their other parent, a relative, or a foster family.

What to Do if Social Workers Take Your Child

If a social worker concludes your child is in immediate danger, they may remove them from your care while a judge determines the best course of action through a series of hearings. If your child has been taken from you, the first and most important step is understanding your rights.

In a juvenile dependency case, you have the right to:

  • Hire a lawyer. If you cannot afford representation, the judge must provide one for you.
  • Attend and participate in subsequent court hearings. As long as you still have parental rights, you can and should remain fully involved in the legal process.
  • Learn what it will take to get your child back home. Social services will provide certain programs and assistance to help you do this.
  • Fully understand the process. You have the right to ask your lawyer any question you may have. You also have the right to an interpreter, if needed.

Achieving Parent-Child Reunification

Our legal team at Singleton Smith Law Offices is more than prepared to empower you with the information and resources you need to defend your parental rights in court. We will also recommend a variety of strategies you can use to increase the likelihood of reunification with your child.

We typically recommend the following for parents in juvenile dependency cases:

  • Attend all court hearings.
  • Request frequent visitation.
  • Give the social worker information about your family members as soon as possible. This can prevent social services from placing your child with a foster family or shelter.
  • Continue to make education and healthcare decisions for your child. This includes attending parent-teacher conferences and doctor’s appointments.
  • Complete all ordered reunification services in a timely manner. Generally, you have a year to do this. If your child is under 3 years old, however, you will only have 6 months. If you do not complete these services, the court will likely begin the process of finding a permanent home for your child.

In juvenile dependency cases, the court will schedule a review hearing every six months. These hearings are designed to adjust the short-term and long-term plans as needed. For example, the judge may see certain changes you make and decide to reunify you and your child sooner rather than later. Due to the flexibility of this process, we highly recommend remaining fully engaged and involved in your child’s life, making necessary adjustments to your home, career, and lifestyle, and demonstrating a consistent dedication to caring for your child. These strategies will greatly improve your chances of reunification.

What You Can Expect from Our Team

We understand how painful your situation may be. Your children may be living in a temporary home, and this situation may become permanent without the support of a dedicated legal team. Our goal is to advocate for your parental rights and demonstrate to the court that you know what is best for your children and you are fully prepared to provide the care they need.

Let us put our 25 years of experience in juvenile court to work for your case. Call us directly at (951) 779-1610 today.


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