If the child is adjudicated dependent, it is the court's obligation to reunite a dependent child with the child's family when it can be safely and effectively done. Parents do not have an absolute right to have their child returned to them, and many children are temporarily ordered into the custody of third parties. Frequently the court will fashion an order that allows the family to correct the deficiencies in care that brought the child to the attention of the court. The efficacy of the order and the progress of the family in correcting these deficiencies will be monitored by the court. Once the deficiencies have been corrected, the court will return the child to a safe home.
If a child has been adjudicated to be a dependent child and the family cannot provide a safe and permanent home for the child in a reasonable time, the court has the authority to hear and decide a separate action to terminate parental rights to the child. If the parental rights are terminated, the child may be made available for adoption by a suitable family.
Recent changes in federal and state law have shortened the time available for parents to correct their parenting deficiencies. They have also limited the state's obligation to provide services to parents who have grievously mistreated a child or who have not complied with court orders designed to reunify the family. The purpose of the laws is to recognize the importance of a child growing up in a permanent, safe, and loving family and to prevent a child from languishing in foster care.
For more information on the outcomes of adjudication, contact us at 706-613-3300.