What is a "dependency" case?

A dependency case is a civil action brought to the Circuit Court by the State through the Department of Children and Families (DCF). These types of cases are initiated based on allegations of abuse, abandonment or neglect of a child. 

When the court system becomes involved and a case is actually opened by DCF, typically the first step involves "sheltering" the child at a Shelter Hearing. This is where DCF has the burden of proving they have probably cause to believe abuse, neglect or abandonment of the child has occurred and it is then necessary to remove the child from the parent and place the child with another family member, friend, or foster parent.

The dependency process falls under Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes. Like any other case, the process can vary based on the circumstances and allegations. Therefore, it is important that if you find yourself involved in this type of proceeding that you contact an attorney and discuss your rights and the procedure.

Here you can find a flowchart of how dependency cases may go:

This blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship nor is it intended to give legal advice.