Children's Services Cases

Giulitto Law Office has experience in handling children’s services cases in Portage County, Ohio and surrounding areas.

When the Children’s Services Agency in your county files a complaint alleging children are either abused, neglected or dependent the action is held in the juvenile court.  Child Services will file a complaint when they believe abuse, neglect or dependency is present.  These three terms are defined under Ohio law and there is a lot of misconception about what these terms actually mean.  For example, it is true that in a dependency case, Child Services does not need to prove parental fault under certain circumstances.  It is very important to take Children’s Services actions seriously.

Children’s Services typically will initiate an action in one of two ways.  First, they may file an emergency action where they must show that it contrary to the child’s best interests to remain in the home.  A shelter care hearing is held and the court makes a decision whether there are reasonable grounds to remove the child.  At shelter care, Child Services has great latitude in presenting evidence.  Hearsay is admissible in these proceedings.  If the court grants Children’s Services request for shelter care, the case moves on to the adjudication, or trial, phase.  More on this in a second.

The second way Children’s Services can initiate an action is by filing a complaint with the juvenile court without a request for a shelter care hearing.  If this happens, the case goes straight to the adjudication, or trial, stage of the case.

At adjudication, Child Services must prove that the children are abused, neglected or dependent as defined under Ohio law.  The parents can present evidence as well and the normal courtroom rules of evidence apply.  If parents are accused of a crime, they cannot be forced to testify.  If Children’s Services establishes abuse, neglect or dependency the case will move on to the disposition stage of the case.  If Children’s Services does not meet their burden, the case is dismissed.

If disposition is necessary, the court has five dispositional alternatives.  They are:

  1. Keeping the child/children with the parents and giving Children’s Services an order of protective supervision, meaning they will monitor the family;
  2. Placing the child/children in the temporary custody of Children’s Services or an appropriate relative;
  3. Placing the child/children in the legal custody of anyone who requests custody prior to disposition;
  4. A Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (PPLA), where the child/ children are put in a permanent placement but not legally placed for adoption; and
  5. Placing the child in the permanent custody of Children’s Services who will then place the child for adoption.

Options #1 and #2 are most likely to be ordered at the first disposition hearing.  A case plan is put in place for the parents to address the problems.  Disposition orders are revisited every six months.  If the parents comply with the case plan, they will either keep their child/children in their care or they will reunify with their children.  If they do not comply with the case plan, the court may remove the child/children if they remained in the family home or the child/children will not return home if they were removed.  The Children’s Services must end with a permanent placement for the children two years from when the case started.

Call attorney Giulitto Law Office today for a FREE CONSULTATION regarding a Children’s Services case today.