A Fact Finding is really a trial. Dependency cases can have 3 primary stages (if the case goes badly). The first stage is Shelter Care. This starts with the pick-up of the child or the filing of the petition. Within 72 hours (counting court days only) a Shelter Care hearing must be held. At that hearing, the parents (or whoever it is who has legal custody of the child) has a right to present testimony and other evidence, but that is not the fact finding.
If the case progresses and the child remains out of the care of the parent or the department seeks to continue its involvement in the family's lives, the parent/custodian then has a right to a Fact Finding within 75 days. It is very common that this trial is waived and an agreed dependency order enters. For some parents, this is the best approach, but it depends on the specific facts in each case.
If dependency is established by either an agreed order or a dependency fact finding, services will be ordered to remedy the parental deficiencies that the court has found exists. If, after a certain period of time, the parents have failed to engage in or adequately progress in services (in the view of the department), the department can file a petition to terminate parental rights. This is the third phase of the process, the termination case. The parent then has a right to another trial.
Each phase can take some time and will have its own complexities, but this is a very general overview of the process and the multiple opportunities for trial and to present evidence. If you have questions about the process still, I recommend speaking with your attorney about the specifics of your case and its current status in the process.
I assume you are talking about a minor child dependency situation where the State has filed a dependency petition. There is a whole statutory scheme to deal with child dependency issues and procedures. Although I do not practice in this area of law, I understand from the statutes that there is supposed to be a fact-finding hearing where witness testimonies can be taken. If you are the parent/guardian or the minor, you should retain an attorney who practices in this area to ensure that proper procedures are followed and rights are recognized.
Disclaimer: Attorney Leo P. Shishmanian provides this response as a courtesy and for educational or informational purposes only. Other attorneys may have different opinions or responses. In no way should this answer be considered as creating an attorney-client relationship or a solicitation for business. If you found this response helpful, please indicate Best Answer to Avvo. Thank you.
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