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Dependency Timeline and Time Limits

This timeline deals with situations when a child is taken into DFACS custody. For information on when a child is not taken into custody, please click here for Time limits handout.

When a complaint is filed, within 72 hours a hearing is held: 72-hour hearing-(probable cause hearing).

  • Court decides if a child is in danger, and where a child should reside until the adjudicatory hearing.
  • After the 72-hour hearing, a deprivation petition has to be filed, or the complaint will be dismissed.
  • If the child is placed in state custody, a petition must be filed within 5 days.
  • If the child is not placed in state custody, a petition must be filed within 30 days.
  • Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays do not count in 72 hour deadline.

Within 5 or 30 days a petition is filed:

  • If the child is in state custody, the court will hold an Adjudicatory Hearing within 10 days of the filing date.
  • If the child is not in state custody, the court will hold an Adjudicatory Hearing within 60 days of the filing date.

Within 10 or 60 days an Adjudicatory Hearing is held:

  • The judge listens to testimony and other evidence, decides the facts of the case and makes a ruling about whether of not the child is deprived.
  • If the judge finds the child is not deprived the case will be dismissed.
  • If the judge finds that a child is deprived, a Disposition Hearing will be held either immediately or within a reasonable period of time.

If the child(ren) is found dependent, a disposition hearing is held:

  • Court determines what placement is in the best interests of the child. Placement may be with one of the following:
  • Child's parent, guardian, or other custodian
  • DFACS (state custody / foster care)
  • If the court orders that DFACS shall have custody, that order is valid for 1 year starting from either the day of the first judicial finding of abuse or the day the child was removed from the home.

Review Hearings

  • 75 Day Review Hearing: A hearing that is scheduled before the judge 75 days from the child being adjudicated.  The Court reviews the completion of the relative search, scheduled subsequent four-moth review to be conducted by the court or a citizen judicial review panel, and shall determine is child continues to be dependent, the case plan is still the best case plan for child and his or her family.
  • 4 Month Judicial Review: A hearing that is scheduled before the judge within 4 months from the removal date.  The court reviews whether appropriate progress is being made on the permanency plan, the appropriateness of any recommended changes go child's placement, visitation is appropriate, and services are being provided to child, parent(s), foster parent(s).   
  • Citizen Review Panel: A group of trained community members who review your progress on the case plan and make recommendations to the judge about how the case should continue.
  • 9 Month Review Hearing: A hearing that is scheduled before the judge within 9 months from the removal date of the child.  The Court reviews the permanency plan as to whether if child shall be returned to his or her parents; child shall be referred for termination of parental rights and adoption; and/or permanent guardianship.  The  appropriate progress is being made on the permanency plan, the appropriateness of any recommended changes, and services are being provided to child, parent(s) and foster parent(s).
  • Permanency Review Hearing: A hearing that is scheduled 6 months from 9 Month Review Hearing and every 6 months thereafter until child has permanency.  This may include returning to parent(s), adoption, permanency guardianship or APPLA
  • It is in your best interest to attend ALL reviews.