Representation You Can Trust; Attorneys You Can Rely On.

St. Petersburg Family Dependency Court Hearings Lawyer

Providing Trusted Counsel for Each Stage of Your Case

If you've been accused of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, your case must proceed through one or more family dependency hearings before it's resolved. Although, overall, the hearings are concerned with the allegations against you, each covers a different matter. At every stage of your case, you have rights. It's essential that you exercise them, especially the right to have an attorney by your side throughout your case.

At Fleming Law Group, our St. Petersburg family dependency court hearings attorney is well-versed in the laws and rules concerning these matters. We will stand by your side, providing the compassionate and sound counsel you need. Our team will ensure that you understand what you can expect at each stage of your case, your rights, and how we will fight toward keeping your family unit together.

We will focus on protecting the best interests of you and your child. Schedule a free consultation by calling us at (727) 202-4858 or contacting us online today.

What Happens at a Family Dependency Hearing?

Although each family dependency hearing concerns a specific matter, they generally follow a similar format. Essentially, a judge listens to evidence for the issue at hand and determines what the next steps are. You have the right to be present at each and present your side of the story.

We'll discuss in separate sections each of the possible family dependency hearings your case may proceed through.

Shelter Hearing

If a child protective investigator determined that your home was unsafe and removed your child, your case will be scheduled for a shelter hearing. This proceeding is set within 24 hours after your child has been taken from your care.

The focus of the shelter hearing is whether or not your child should be returned to your home. Specifically, the judge will determine whether there was probable cause to remove your child.

Possible outcomes of the shelter hearing include:

  • Returning your child to your care with specific services in place,
  • Placing the child in the care of a friend or relative, or
  • Keeping your child in licensed foster care

Because your child may be placed with a friend or family member, it's important that you provide information for the people you trust to look after them.

If the judge decides that your child should remain out of your home, they may set a visitation schedule.

Arraignment Hearing

Within 28 days of the shelter hearing, your case will be set for arraignment. During this hearing, you will provide your response to the allegations against you.

You can enter one of the following pleas:

  • Admit
  • Consent
  • Deny

Before the hearing, you will have received a copy of the petition, which details the accusations. You have a right to know specifically what you have been accused of – not just "abuse," "neglect," or "abandonment. It's important that you review the petition with your lawyer before making a plea at the arraignment hearing.

Adjudicatory Hearing

If you denied the allegations against you, an adjudicatory hearing will be set within 30 days of your arraignment hearing.

The adjudicatory hearing is essentially a trial. The judge will hear evidence and testimony from both sides. If the Department of Children and Family proves by a preponderance of evidence that your child has been abused, abandoned, or neglected, your child will be considered dependent. Your case will then proceed to a disposition hearing.

Disposition Hearing

The disposition hearing happens within 15 days of your admitting guilt at the arraignment hearing or within 30 days of the adjudicatory hearing. At the disposition hearing, the judge will decide what measures need to be taken to keep your child safe.

What If I Don't Attend the Family Dependency Hearings?

Although you have a right to be present at any of the hearings, you can choose not to attend. However, the case will still proceed. It will do so without your voice being heard, meaning vital decisions will be made about your family without you. Thus, it's vital that you go to all hearings and fight to protect your parental rights.

Get Legal Representation You Can Rely On

At Fleming Law Group, our St. Petersburg family dependency court hearings lawyer understands that going through this process can be frightening and stressful, as it can impact your entire family. We are here to skillfully guide you through it and help you make informed decisions along the way.

Speak with us about your case by calling (727) 202-4858 or submitting an online contact form.

Why Choose Fleming Law Group?

  • 24/7 Accessibility

    There is always an attorney in the office and there is no time that we cannot be reached. We are always available via email or phone at
    any time.

  • Honest Guidance

    Our attorneys are not out for their best interest, but for yours. Our clients receive personalized care that is focused solely on them and their unique case.

  • Unique Backgrounds

    As former prosecutors, both Attorneys Fleming and Bettker have unique perspective in the courtroom and stay one step ahead of
    the opposition.

  • Decades of Experience

    Our attorneys have more than 40 decades of combined experience. Over the years, we have gained a renown in our field for our results and care for our clients.

“Mr. Fleming got me an incredible result for my case. I have worked with many other lawyers in the past and thought he represented me the best. He also stays in touch with me since my troubles to make sure everything is ok. He also has a great people working with him. They are always so nice to me when I call and I get return calls right away.”

- Kip
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