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Children's Law

What is Children’s Law?

Children’s law is part of family law and is intended to safeguard the welfare of children. The children’s court handles diverse cases including adoption, dependency, foster care and surrogacy.  If you are experiencing an issue under children’s law, it is important that you engage the services of an experienced family attorney. San Diego Family Law Attorney will provide you with the necessary legal expertise in any children’s case.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Your DFCS Hearing?

A dependency case usually commences when a police officer, doctor, or teacher files a report about the home life of a child with the Department of Children and Family Services. After this, a meeting is scheduled with the guardian of the child to discuss the complaint. Before attending this meeting, it’s important that you enlist the services of an attorney experienced with DCFS and Child Protective Services. A qualified San Diego Law Attorney will help you go through the process smoothly.

DCFS will closely monitor your family for about six months after the hearing. During this period, a Child Service Worker can recommend that your child be removed from your home at any time. You can prevent this by working closely with our family attorney and ensuring that you adhere to all rules that have been laid down.

If the child is detained, we will ensure that a hearing is scheduled as soon as possible. During the hearing, we will recommend that the family is reunited, request for placement with relatives or friends or request visitation.

Should I Hire or Use a Court Appointed Lawyer?

Your family may be assigned an attorney during a dependency hearing. However, using the service of a court appointed attorney may not be the best option. They may not have the time and resources to dedicate to your case like a private attorney will. We would therefore recommend that you engage the services of a private family law attorney if you can afford it.

What is the Role of the Child Dependency Court?

It is the mandate of the child dependency court to safeguard children from neglect or abuse at home. The child dependency court can:

  • Take your children away 
  • Send your children to live with relatives or to foster care
  • Withdraw your parental rights
  • Issue new parental rights

We at San Diego Family Law know that the dependency process can be quite stressful for both you and your child. We believe that every child should be with his or her family where he or she is safe and comfortable. We will assist you through the entire dependency process to ensure you remain the primary custodian of your child.

When Does the Dependency Process Start?

The child dependency process commences when the Department of Children and Family Services is informed of the alleged abuse of a child, and they launch an investigation. A child service worker then investigates the situation to determine if your child is in a safe environment or not.  If the Child Service Worker determines that your child is not safe at home, the child will be moved from your custody and become a dependent of the court.  This can be a very traumatizing period for any parent.  At San Diego Family Law Attorney, we will do everything legally possible to ensure that you retain custody of your child.

What is a Detention Hearing?

If your child is taken from home, a court hearing must be scheduled as soon as possible. You must attend the initial hearing, and the hearing authorities should notify you of the time and date. This initial hearing is commonly referred to as the detention hearing as the court determines if the child will go home with you or will remain a dependent of the court.  San Diego Family Law has vast experience in child dependency cases and will strive for the best possible outcome depending on your circumstances.

It is at the detention hearing where you will be given an opportunity to either admit or deny the charges of child abuse and neglect.  The judge reviews the facts of your case to determine what living arrangement best suits your child. If the court decides that it is not in the best interest of the child to remain in your custody, it can go ahead and place the child in foster care or in the care of a relative. It is critical that you tell our attorney about the relatives that may be able to take care of your child for the court to give preferential consideration.

What is a Jurisdiction Hearing?

If after the detention hearing the child is not returned to your custody, the court will allow you a jurisdiction hearing where you will have a chance to respond to the abuse allegations leveled against you.

What is a Disposition Hearing and Reunification Plan?

If you do not get back the custody of your child after the jurisdiction hearing, a child dependency disposition hearing is held after ten days. At the disposition hearing, the court implements a proposed reunification plan for you and your child. This plan stipulates when you and your child can be reunited after the fulfillment of certain requirements. After you accept the reunification plan, the court proceeds to schedule a six-month review hearing when the court evaluates the progress of the reunification plan.

The dependency process for your child can be quite lengthy and cause a separation between you and your child for a substantial period of time. We at San Diego Family Law understand that this separation can take a toll on you and your child. We will endeavor to reunite you and your child as quickly as possible during this period.

What Happens During the Six to Twelve Month Review Hearing?

During this review hearing period, the court evaluates your progress as per the unification plan.  If the court finds that you have adhered to the reunification plan and remedied the problems that made you lose custody of your child, it may allow you to get back the custody of your child. 

If the court comes to the conclusion that sufficient progress hasn’t been made, it will go ahead and set a 12-month review hearing, where the court will once again review your progress as per the reunification plan. If the court decides that it is not in the child’s best interest to be returned to your custody after the 12th-month hearing, it sets a permanency hearing to determine the best permanent home for the child.

What is the Permanency Planning Hearing?

During the permanency hearing, the court decides on a permanent home for the child. If the court had previously decided that the child should not be returned to your custody, it may decide that the child permanently remains in foster care or in the custody of a relative.

Who are Mandated Reporters?

The child dependency process commences when the Department of Social Services is alerted on possible abuse or neglect of a child. This department is notified by a mandated reporter. A mandated reporter is someone legally charged with the responsibility of reporting child abuse incidents. This includes police officers, teachers, doctors, clergy members and employees of child day care facilities.


Adoption is the legal process that gives adoptive parents permanent legal rights over a child. We at San Diego Family Law understand that the adoption process can be quite rigorous and stressful. We provide our best legal adoption expertise to ease the adoption process for you.

How Can we Help the Birth Mother?

We at San Diego Family Law offer much more than legal advice during this process. We provide the best assistance in pairing the adoptive family to the right baby.

San Diego Family Law acknowledges that the adoption process is smoother when the birth parents forge a relationship with the adopting parents. We ensure that the concerns of the birth mother are addressed. Our attorney will also have discussions with both parties to determine if there are any roles the birth mother will continue to play in the child’s life.  This greatly helps in formulating a post-adoption contract to ensure that wishes of both parties are adhered to.

All adoptions in California are governed by the Family Code. These laws stipulate the process for biological parents to renounce parental rights and the steps that adoptive parents should take to become legal guardians. These laws also accommodate an unidentified or uninvolved non-marital birth father. The California Family Code allows the father to present himself and block the adoption, for him to retain parental rights to his child, and to prevent his rights from being terminated with the birth mothers'.

What is an Independent Adoption?

Approximately 85 percent of adoptions in California of newborns are undertaken through independent adoption, sometimes referred to as a private placement. In independent adoption, the birth parents select the adoptive family and hands the child over to them without using an agency or intermediary. This is carried out by a family law attorney specializing in adoptions. You can also adopt through a licensed adoption agency who will aid in pairing the adoptive parents with a child. The laws also allow step parents or single parents to adopt children.

How Does Our Family Law Attorney Assist Adoptive Families?

Our Family Law Attorney will play a critical role in the entire process for adoptive families.

  • Planning: The attorney will meet with the adoptive family to discuss their needs and plan how best to meet your needs.
  • Pairing: They will identify the birth mother Using their vast experience the attorney will help you choose the best birth mother that will best suit your needs.
  • Pre-Placement Planning: Our attorney will undertake pre-placement preparations to ensure you get custody of the baby. Our attorney will offer you support and advice through the entire process.
  • Placement and Adoption: For the process to be complete all the steps to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents and provide for the formal adoption of the baby must be completed. Our attorney will provide legal assistance until the adoption process is finalized in court.

Who are Defacto Parents?

In some instances, an adult may already be caring for a child but has no legal rights to be the guardian of the child.  A defacto parent status allows you to continue providing for the child’s physical and emotional needs. However, this status does not allow you visitation if the biological parents of the child regain custody. A defacto parent can request custody or visitation and get involved in the child’s placement if they so wish.

Can I Adopt a Child in Foster Care?

A child in foster care may be able to return to the care of their birth parents after a period of time. In many instances, this doesn’t happen, and such children may be adopted by their foster parents or remain in the foster care system until they acquire legal age.

Such adoptions are a little bit complicated as compared to private and agency adoptions requiring the engagement of an experienced children’s law attorney.  In most of these cases, the biological parents may refuse to terminate their parental rights. This forces the foster care agency to seek termination of these rights through legal channels. Our family law attorney will ensure that these rights are terminated for placement and adoption to be finalized.

Hiring the Right Family Law Attorney Can Make All the Difference 

It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to have a family law attorney who is dedicated to providing the best legal advice to ensure that you do not encounter any difficulties with your children’s case.

If you are involved in a child adoption, dependency court process, or other children’s law problem it is critical that you consult with San Diego Family Law Attorney. We will avail the best legal expertise through the entire process.

With our offices located in San Diego, our Family Law Attorneys will always be available.

Call us today 619-610-7425 for consultation. We are here to serve you.

Contact us today by calling 619-610-7425

We will give you a free, no-obligation consultation and can give immediate attention to your family law legal needs.

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