Dependency Timeline

A Timeline of Events in the Court Process
Note: This timeline deals with situations when a child is taken into DFACS custody. For information on when a child is not taken into custody, please see the Time limits section.
  1. When a complaint is filed, within 72 hours a hearing is held: 72-hour hearing-(probable cause hearing).
    1. Court decides if a child is in danger, and where a child should reside until the adjudicatory hearing.
    2. After the 72-hour hearing, a deprivation petition has to be filed, or the complaint will be dismissed.
    3. If the child is placed in state custody, a petition must be filed within 5 days.
    4. If the child is not placed in state custody, a petition must be filed within 30 days.
    5. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays do not count in 72 hour deadline.
  2. Within 5 or 30 days a petition is filed:
    1. If the child is in state custody, the court will hold an Adjudicatory Hearing within 10 days of the filing date.
    2. If the child is not in state custody, the court will hold an Adjudicatory Hearing within 60 days of the filing date.
  3. Within 10 or 60 days an Adjudicatory Hearing is held:
    1. The judge listens to testimony and other evidence, decides the facts of the case and makes a ruling about whether of not the child is deprived.
    2. If the judge finds the child is not deprived the case will be dismissed.
    3. If the judge finds that a child is deprived, a Disposition Hearing will be held either immediately or within a reasonable period of time.
  4. If the child(ren) is found dependent, a disposition hearing is held:
    1. Court determines what placement is in the best interests of the child. Placement may be with one of the following:
      1. Child's parent, guardian, or other custodian
      2. DFACS (state custody / foster care)
      3. If the court orders that DFACS shall have custody, that order is valid for 1 year starting from either the day of the first judicial finding of abuse or the day the child was removed from the home.
  5. Review Hearings-
    1. Judicial Review Hearing-a hearing before the judge to review your progress in the case plan and determine how to proceed with your case.
    2. Citizen Review Panel-a group of trained community members who review your progress on the case plan and make recommendations to the judge about how the case should continue.
    3. It is in your best interest to attend ALL reviews.
  6. Permanency Hearing-(1 year after child is taken from home, or if DFACS recommends non-reunification)
    1. The final plan for the child will be determined.
    2. The final plan could include:
      1. return child to parents
      2. termination of parental rights
      3. possibility of adoption
      4. extension of DFACS custody for 1 year
      5. grant custody to a relative until child is 18
      6. grant temporary custody to a relative for 24 months