Juvenile Dependency

A Note from Paula Teske

I have represented clients in Juvenile Dependency Law for over 25 years, the first 12 of which I served on the Juvenile Dependency Court Panel in Los Angeles County. I represented over 1,000 individuals, from parents and stepparents, to grandparents and other relatives, to the minors who are dependents of the court and their siblings. Today, I utilize this expertise, “gained from the trenches”, on behalf of parents to reunify them with their children in the most expeditious manner possible. I skillfully litigate against false allegations; I tenaciously work to clear up misunderstood facts and circumstances; and I assist and reinforce my clients in resolving legitimate concerns to reach their ultimate goal of reunifying with their children.

I also represent numerous grandparents and other family members from all over the country, to gain release of children from foster care into loving homes with caring nurturing relatives. I am particularly passionate about this area of my practice.

Your Case Is My Cause!

Paula S. Teske, Esq.

Child Custody and Foster Care Specialist Attorneys

We at the Law Offices of Paula S. Teske offer highly specialized legal services for Juvenile Dependency cases. Our attorneys can help you understand how the California Juvenile Dependency system works.

Our attorneys and legal support staff feel very strongly that all children deserve a safe home environment with caring adults to look after them. We are ready to advocate on your behalf to work towards the best possible outcome for you and your child.

If your child or minor relative has been placed in Foster Care by the California Juvenile Dependency Court, we can help you determine what steps you will need to take to regain custody of the child.

Juvenile Dependency (Foster Care)

The court system takes allegations of abuse or neglect against children very seriously. Juvenile Dependency proceedings are typically initiated when the Department of Children and Family Services (or a similar agency in your area) files a petition with the Juvenile Dependency Court.

The Court will start by assessing the validity of the allegations. Is there compelling evidence that mistreatment may have taken place? Is the child still in danger? In many cases, allegations can be resolved through formal or informal negotiations. If the court determines the child was never or is no longer in danger, the case will end and the child will be returned to the parent or legal guardian.

If negotiations are unsuccessful, the case can go to trial. Juvenile Dependency cases are considered civil (non-criminal) matters. There is no jury. Cases are heard by a judge, who has the power to decide what is best for the child.

When the well-being of a child is at stake, the Court requires only a preponderance of evidence. This term means that evidence to substantiate the truth of the allegations must be presented to satisfy a margin of only slightly more than 50% probability.

The Petitioner, typically The Department of Child and Family Services, must prove the truth of the allegations. If insufficient evidence is presented to support the allegations, the case will end, and the child will return home.

If the Court determines that any aspect of the charged allegations are true, the judge can rule that the State take jurisdiction over the care and custody of the child until such a time as it can be shown that the child is no longer in danger in your care.

Regaining Custody of a Child Placed in Foster Care

If the Petitioner presents sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations of mistreatment, neglect, or abandonment, the Court determines where the child will be placed to live temporarily. The Court may decide the child will stay with one of the parents, be sent to live with a relative, or be placed in Foster Care.

The Court generally prefers to place a child with a parent or relative, unless there’s a compelling reason not to allow this outcome. This type of placement also generally provides a better chance for the parent or legal guardian to regain custody rights.

The Juvenile Dependency Court may give the parent an opportunity to reunify with the child during a designated period, generally between six to eighteen months. Each step of the proceedings allows the Parent to request that the child be returned to the Parent.

Often, the parent or guardian must successfully complete court-mandated programs to correct conduct that led to the abuse or neglect. For example, the court may order the parent to attend anger management classes, parenting classes, or substance abuse rehabilitation programs.

Expert Legal Services for Foster Care Cases

  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Temporary Placement with Relatives
  • Temporary Placement with Non-Related Extended Family Members (NREFMs)
  • De Facto Parents / Guardians
  • Rights of Parents
  • Rights of Grandparents
  • Rights of Non-Biological Parents
  • Child Abuse or Child Neglect
  • Proof of Paternity
  • Termination of Parental Rights
  • Permanency Planning Hearing
  • Negotiation and Litigation of Abuse Claims

Compassionate, Effective Help with Your Case

We at the Law Offices of Paula S. Teske are passionate about protecting your rights and reunifying your family. Please contact our Firm for an initial consultation. Your Case Is Our Cause.