Becoming involved with a Kansas Child in Need of Care proceeding can be very scary. Perhaps a child you love has been taken out of your home. Maybe the state has threatened to take your child or a child you love.
No matter how you become involved with the court, a Kansas Child in Need of Care proceeding can be confusing and overwhelming. Stepping into the court room you may feel like you are in a foreign land where everyone is speaking in a different language and you just can’t understand.
This article attempts to take you step by step through the Kansas Child in Need of Care process. I want to give you a better understanding of the major procedural stages in a Kansas Child in Need of Care case so it is not so confusing and scary.
KANSAS CHILD IN NEED OF CARE PETITION
A Kansas Child in Need of Care case is initiated when the state or a private individual files a petition with the court alleging a child to be a child in need of care. The most frequent grounds alleged in a Kansas Child in Need of Care petition are:
(1) The child is without adequate parental care, control or subsistence and the condition is not due solely to the lack of financial means of the child’s parents or other custodian (Kansas Statute 38-1502(a)(1)) ;
(2) The child is without the care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental or emotional health (Kansas Statute 38-1502(a)(2)) ; or
(3) The child has been physically, mentally or emotionally abused or neglected or sexually abused (Kansas Statute 38-1502(a)(3)).
Immediately upon the filing of a Kansas Child in Need of Care petition the court appoints a guardian ad litem (GAL), an attorney appointed to represent the best interests of the child.
In conjunction with filing a Kansas Child in Need of Care petition, the Petitioner can request that the child be immediately removed for his or her home and placed in the protective custody of either an individual or agency. The court may order the child be placed in protective custody if sufficient facts are alleged that support a finding that it is contrary to the welfare of the child to remain in his or her home.
TEMPORARY CUSTODY HEARING
If a child is placed in protective custody a temporary custody hearing must be held within 72 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) of taking a child into protective custody. At the temporary custody hearing (also referred to as a TC hearing) the court may enter on order placing the child in the temporary custody of someone other then a parent if the court finds:
· the child is dangerous to him or herself or to others,
· the child is not likely to available for the next court hearing; or
· the health or welfare of the child may be endangered without further care.
FIRST APPEARANCE & ADJUDICATION
At the first appearance a parent may admit or deny the allegations in the Kansas Child in Need of Care petition. A parent’s admission to the allegations is referred to as a “stipulation.” If both parents stipulate the child will be found a Kansas Child in Need of Care, this is referred to as an “adjudication.”
If a parent denies the allegations in the Kansas Child in Need of Care petition he or she may request a trial. At trial the petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the child is a child in need of care. If the petitioner is successful the child will be adjudicated a child in need of care. If the petitioner fails at proving the child a child in need of care the case will be dismissed.
A first appearance is set at the time the petitioner files the Kansas Child in Need of Care petition. The hearing is usually scheduled approximately thirty (30) days from the date of the filing. In the event that there is a temporary custody hearing, the first appearance will be set at the temporary custody hearing.
DISPOSITIONAL, REVIEW, & PERMANENCY HEARINGS
Within thirty (30) days of a child being adjudicated a Kansas Child in Need of Care a dispositional hearing is set. The goal of a Kansas Child in Need of Care case is to accomplish permanency for the child. At the dispositional hearing the court determines a permanency plan, whether the child will remain in the home or be removed from the home, if the child has been removed from the home will there will be an attempt to reintegrate the child with the parent(s), what services will be in place, whose custody the child will be in, etc.
If the child has been removed from the home and reintegration is determined to be viable the court will order as its permanency plan, a reintegration plan. The object of a reintegration plan is upon completion of certain tasks the parent will be better able to meet the needs of the child and reintegration may occur.
A review hearing is usually set every three months. At the review hearing progress toward the permanency plan is monitored and additional review hearings are set. A permanency hearing is a review hearing that is held at the twelve (12) month mark. At any review hearing the court can determine that inadequate progress has been made towards the permanency plan and that a permanency plan may no longer be viable.
If the court finds that reintegration is not a viable option, the petitioner shall file a motion to terminate parental rights or a motion to establish permanent guardianship within thirty (30) days of the dispositional hearing.
If at the dispositional hearing the court finds reintegration is not a viable option or at a subsequent review hearing the court finds that progress towards reintegration is inadequate; the petitioner will file a motion to terminate parental rights. At the termination hearing, the petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence that
· the parent is unfit by reason of conduct or condition which renders the parent unable to care properly for the child and
· that conduct or condition is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Following the termination hearing, a permanency hearing will be set and a new permanency plan will be ordered.
Kansas Child in Need of Care proceedings are serious and scary. However, if you have a basic understanding of the process, the willingness to succeed, and the advice of an experienced attorney, you can often achieve your objectives. You can improve your own the life and the life of a child who means so much to you.
To reach the author, please call Trina Nudson at (913) 438-4636
or send e-mail to Trina@yourchild1st.com.
To learn more about children in need of care, click here.
Visit our home page at www.yourchild1st.com .
This information is only for general educational purposes, and not for legal advice. Laws change, and their application may vary significantly depending on your circumstances. If you need legal advice, you must consult a licensed attorney. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.
© 2006 Scott Wasserman & Associates, LLC