Relative Rights in California Dependency Court

For more than three decades, attorney Terry Chucas has handled dependency appeals in San Diego and Los Angeles Counties. In this role, Terry Chucas represents children and their parents in cases involving child removal and reunification. Under California law, parents can elect for removed children to be placed under the care of relatives.

During a dependency case, extended family members and, in some cases, close friends can take on caregiver rights. California recognizes relatives with a close blood relation, including siblings, grandparents, and step-family members. The court must also notify close family members of a child’s removal within 30 days.

While the court is obligated to prioritize the placement of a removed child with related caregivers, this process can only occur if a willing individual comes forward before the first court hearing. Grandparents may be granted visitation rights, even if the child is not placed in their care. The court also generally recognizes the right of a child to maintain contact with their siblings.

Types of Hearings in Dependency Court

Terry Chucas of San Diego possesses decades of experience as a family attorney. Selected for the Dependency Appellate Panel for the Fourth District Court of Appeal (San Diego), Terry Chucas represents parents and children in dependency court appeals.

In dependency court proceedings, there are three common types of hearings. Detention court hearings happen when children are removed from their parents. At the hearing, the judge decides if it is safe for the children to go back into the care of their parents until the next hearing.

In a jurisdictional hearing, the judge hears the allegations against a parent whose child has been removed. If the judge determines that the child is unsafe with his or her parents, the child will become a dependent of the court.

In a dispositional hearing, a judge determines what, if anything, a parent needs to do to improve conditions for his or her child. Dispositional hearings are sometimes a part of the jurisdictional hearing.