Shelter Care and Termination of Parental Rights Lawyers in DuPage County
At Anderson Attorneys & Advisors, we understand that an investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) can be very difficult for parents, especially when the allegations of child abuse or neglect are groundless. Sometimes, however, such an investigation may result in a child being removed from his or her home. Removing a child from his or her parents is not a matter that DCFS officials take lightly, so if your child has been taken into protective custody, it is important to contact an attorney immediately. Our team of compassionate lawyers is ready to help you fight to protect your parental rights.
Shelter Care Hearings
If a DCFS investigation uncovers evidence that a child has been abused or neglected—or that the parent is not capable of caring for the child—the child may be removed from the home and placed in protective care. Within two business days, however, a hearing must be held in juvenile court to determine the child’s best interests. This hearing is known as a “shelter care” or “temporary custody” hearing. A juvenile court judge will hear from both DCFS and the child’s parents, review any presented evidence, and decide whether to return the child to the care of his or her parents or to appoint a temporary custodian. If the court appoints a temporary custodian, the case will also be scheduled for additional proceedings.
Adjudicatory and Dispositional Hearings
The appointment of a temporary custodian is not equivalent to a finding that the child was abused or neglected. That decision can only be made following an adjudication or adjudicatory hearing. If there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of abuse or neglect, the case will proceed to a dispositional hearing. Without such evidence, the case will be dismissed.
During a dispositional hearing, the court will be required to determine the best option for the child. In doing so, the court will consider how the parents have addressed the allegations and other evidence regarding the child’s needs and well-being. The child may be allowed to return home to his or her parents or placed with an alternative guardian—which may include DCFS. Children under the care of DCFS are generally placed with foster parents.
Permanency Hearings and the Termination of Parental Rights
If a child is not returned to his or her parents following the dispositional hearing, a permanency hearing will be held every six months to check on the status of the case. Parents who wish to regain custody of their child must demonstrate progress toward that goal. If it becomes evident that the parents are not capable of or not willing to properly care for the child, their parental rights could be terminated, and the child could be adopted by his or her foster parents or other adoptive parents. In every case, the court’s priority is to protect the child’s best interests.
Call Us for Help
The compassionate attorneys at Anderson Attorneys & Advisors realize that the child welfare process can be complex and often overwhelming. Fortunately, you do not need to face the challenges on your own. Contact our Wheaton office at 630-877-5800 for a confidential consultation. We represent parents and foster parents in Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Winfield, Warrenville, Glendale Heights, West Chicago, and throughout DuPage County.