WHAT IS A DEPENDENCY CASE?
A "dependency" case is civil not criminal. In most cases, there is no criminal consequence or jailing that will occur as a result of your actions on this case. That is the rule. There are exceptions It is more likely that a judge will have negative feelings about reuniting you with your children, than the s/he will jail you for failing to follow court orders. And that is the GOAL of your case: to get your children home and the case dismissed, so that you can parent your children to maturity without continuing interference from state social workers. A DEPENDENCY CASE IS ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN. The case is called "In Re the Dependency of ...your child's name." The social welfare agencies and the Courts are interested in you/ the parents only because if you solve your problems the children will be safe. Do not forget that the primary concern of the court is "the best interest of the child." The child welfare agencies are required to help you get kids back home.
HOW TO WORK WITH YOUR LAWYER TO GET THE BEST OUTCOME.
I recommend that my clients have a spiral notebook from the start, and write down every important thing that happens to them in their dependency case. Before they write down anything else, I ask them to go home and write down their case "story." A case story is, how this case started in your own words. If you have problems reading, you will want to keep these notes in a voice-recorded format. Make sure that your lawyer is treating you more like a customer than like an employee. You can do this by providing her a list: of what you want in writing. I highly recommend that you break that area up into a few categories like: what I want immediately; what I want by the end of the month; and what I want next year. The immediate list might include things like: 1) I want my urinalyses tests reduced from twice a week to once a week. Long-term goals might include-- by this time next year, I want: 1) all three of my kids home; and 2) the dependency case dismissed.
I AM A LONG-TERM DRUG ADDICT (OR ALCOHOLIC.) CAN I GET MY CHILDREN BACK?
Yes. You can. I know how to help you do it, and if you don't believe me, call my office and I will put you in touch with long-term drug addicts who have their children now due to my diligent legal work and their own hard work on their whole lives. I know how to help you get your kids back, but you must be willing to admit your own problems, and then work on you harder than you've worked on anything in your life.
Many parents lose their children because they fail an unwritten attitude test. Don't let that be you. Realize that many people are watching every little thing you do. During your case, treat all people, even the very social worker who may have driven your kids to foster care, with respect. And know for certain that if you tell your social worker where to jump off, that will make it into their next court report. That is not the image that you want the judge to have when she is deciding whether your children should go home. Ultimately, the judge (and not the social worker) has final say on when it is time for your kids to go home. You want him/her to know who you are, and not to be effected by any bad relationships that you have established with the social worker, the CASA or any other professional on the case. Although this shouldn't be a personality contest, it doesn't hurt to have a good relationship with the professionals.