A legal dependent is someone who is cared for and supported by a guardian or adult. Dependency issues therefore have to deal with the care and protection of a dependent (usually a child). According to A.R.S. § 8-201, a dependency proceeding determines if a child is in need of proper and effective care. These types of question arise if a parent or parents is unable or unwilling to provide stable and sufficient care for a child. The extremely unfortunate instances that can bring about dependency proceedings include:
- Alcohol or drugs addiction of either parent.
- Neglect or abandonment of a child.
- Physical or sexual abuse of a child.
If there is a report of any of these types of behavior, the state will begin a dependency proceeding and investigation. The Department of Economic Security (DES), through Child Protective Services (CPS) can remove children from a home and place them in protective custody. CPS will then investigate the allegations as well as living conditions. Any evidence regarding the unfortunate instances that lead to the proceedings, is presented in a hearing in juvenile court. The court decides whether it is in the child’s best interest to return home or be placed under another caretaker, based upon the evidence presented by DES and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
The Arizona laws regarding dependency have been put in place to ensure that all children have access to a safe, supportive, and stable home. However, the possibility of having a child removed permanently is always overwhelming and emotional. Because the severe repercussions of dependency proceedings, it is best to speak with an experienced family law attorney.
Having a skilled attorney represent you and your interests can make all the difference in fighting for the best possible outcome. If you are dealing with a dependency matter, it is crucial that you contact an experienced Arizona family law attorney to help guide you through the process.