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Portland Juvenile Dependency Attorneys

Helping You Defend Your Rights

When the State accuses a parent of neglecting or abusing their child, a parent can find themselves embroiled in a dependency case within the juvenile court. If, after a hearing, a dependency court finds a child is unsafe because a parent engaged in conduct such as child abuse or neglect, it can order the parent's child(ren) to be removed or remain away from the family home and placed into substitute care or with another family member.

For any parent, facing a dependency case is daunting. Our Portland juvenile dependency lawyers will work with you throughout your case, helping you defend your parental rights in and out of court.

To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (888) 981-9511.

How Do Juvenile Dependency Cases Work in Oregon

When an individual is concerned about a child's welfare, they often report suspicions of child abuse or neglect to the Oregon Department of Human Services (often called "child welfare" or the "DHS"). Sometimes, reports come from mandated reporters - individuals such as teachers or healthcare workers who are required by law to report suspicions of child mistreatment - or via anonymous tips.

After receiving a report, DHS will conduct an investigation and determine the threat level and if necessary, initiate dependency proceedings. DHS has other options as well, including a formal voluntary plan to assist the family with certain services, an informal plan of monitoring the family, or no action at all. If DHS concludes that a child is indeed in danger or suffering from neglect or abuse, they will move forward with the dependency case.

In Oregon, dependency cases follow several steps:

  • Shelter hearing. A shelter hearing occurs within one business day of a child’s removal from the family home. This occurs where a child is placed in substitute care. The Court decides if there was sufficient evidence to remove the child, makes decisions on placement and visitation, and sets future hearing dates. Some courts allow the parents an opportunity to present evidence at these hearings and some do not, unfortunately.
  • Status hearing. The Court generally holds a hearing 30 days after the shelter hearing to determine if the parents would like to proceed to trial, clean up any discovery issues, and consider any placement or visitation issues.
  • Jurisdiction and disposition hearing. At this stage, the dependency court fully reviews all evidence supplied by the case and assesses whether the child's situation is improving. The Court makes a decision that the child is within the jurisdiction of the Court, and may order the parents to engage in services, DHS to provide services and visitation, and order services for the child. These services will then provide the roadmap for reunification of the family. The Court determines at this time if the plan is the reunite the child with the parents or work an alternative plan. Future hearing dates are generally set.
  • Citizen Review Board (CRB) assessments. If a child is removed from their primary residence to live with either a relative or a foster care family, the CRB will conduct reviews every six months and make required findings regarding the child’s placement, services to the child and parent, DHS compliance with court orders, and parental progress. The CRB’s findings are made a part of the Court record and inform decisions moving forward.
  • Permanency hearing. The dependency court is required by law to hold a permanency hearing within 12 months of the date jurisdiction is taken or 14 months from the child’s removal, whichever is sooner. If the Court determines that despite DHS making reasonable efforts, the parents have not taken the necessary steps and made sufficient progress to regain custody of their child, The Court decides if the reunification plan is the most appropriate for the child. If it is not, The Court determines if adoption, guardianship, or another permanent planned living arrangement (residential or permanent foster care, generally) are more appropriate. If the Court finds another plan is more suitable, DHS is ordered to offer services toward that plan and move on from reunification.
  • Other plans: If the Court changes a child’s plan to something other than reunification, DHS has certain obligations to file a legal proceeding for that plan. Separate hearings and proceedings will occur based on those decisions, and can include up to termination of a parent’s parental rights.

If you're navigating a dependency case, having an attorney you can trust by your side is vital. The evidence you present to the dependency court and your conduct throughout the case plays a major role in the final outcome and determines whether you retain your child's custody.

At Landerholm Family Law, our Portland juvenile dependency attorneys have the experience and empathy necessary to help you work through your dependency case.

To schedule a consultation with legal counsel you can trust, contact us online or via phone at (888) 981-9511.

About Our Team Portland, Oregon City & Salem Family Law Firm

At our family law firm, we understand the importance of taking an individualized approach to working with clients. Our goal is to give our clients stability and confidence during a difficult time of their lives. From start to finish, we can provide the personalized counsel you deserve.

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