Juvenile Law and the Termination of Parental Rights
Some people are not fit parents. In very limited circumstances, it can be appropriate for a court to restrict or even terminate a person’s parental rights. The juvenile court system operates under different laws and with different procedural rules than the domestic relations court, so it is important to find an attorney who understands the rules and underlying dynamics of these difficult cases. Below we dig into some of the laws and rules around the juvenile court system.
Who Can Apply for Termination of Parental Rights?
In Colorado, only the State – through the Department of Human Services (“DHS”) – can open a dependency and neglect case in juvenile court. Private parties cannot file such cases. If you have reason to believe, however, that a child is being abused or neglected, you should contact your local DHS immediately and make a report. If you believe a crime has been committed or is being committed, you should also call the police. Such reports are how many cases come to the department’s attention.
A Case of Significant Magnitude
Dependency and neglect cases are extremely serious, and the issues at stake are some of the most important issues in the entire justice system. The ultimate remedy – the removal of a child from his or her home and termination of the parent/child relationship – should be saved for the most extreme cases.
Respondent Parent Representation
As a parent accused of abuse and neglect, the child welfare system can be confusing and scary. Parents have a right to an attorney, and those who cannot afford an attorney will be appointed one at the state’s expense. But for those parents who can afford an attorney, it can be difficult to find one who understands the dynamics and the procedures that apply to child welfare cases. The Law Office of Dailey and Pratt can help.
Occasionally, non-parents (e.g., grandparents, family members, or foster parents) will want to participate in the proceedings. The rules for non-parent advocacy and participation are complicated, and you should consult an attorney both about the chances of success and the role you and your attorney can play in the case and any appeal.
Children also receive representation of their best interests in child welfare cases. The Law Office of Dailey and Pratt does not provide such representation, but the Court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) to ensure the child’s interests are adequately and appropriately represented.
The Law Office of Dailey and Pratt also provides appellate services for juvenile court cases, particularly to respondent parents, though sometimes the attorneys represent non-parents as well. Parents are entitled to appeal at two different phases of the case: first, after the adjudication and disposition phases (where it is determined whether a child is abused or neglected), and second, if the parent’s rights are terminated. The appellate rules for child welfare cases are different from other civil appeals, so you should find an experienced attorney quickly if you receive an adverse order in a dependency and neglect case.
Contact an Expert Colorado Springs Child Welfare Attorney
Please contact us today if you have questions about a child welfare (dependency and neglect or termination of parental rights) case. If you are not sure about your legal options, and you have not been provided an attorney, you will want to act quickly to protect your rights, whether at trial or on appeal.