Types of Hearings
- During the Preliminary Protective Conference everyone has a chance to meet the other parties in the case and determine if there are agreements on where the child will be staying (placement), how the parents will have time with the child (visitation), and the services and tasks in the case plan.
- Immediately after the Preliminary Protective Conference, the parties go before the judge for the Preliminary Protective Hearing. During this hearing the Court enters temporary orders for placement, visitation, and for the case plan. In addition, attorneys are appointed, parents admit to or deny the reasons stated in the petition, and the parents are given notice of their rights and their responsibilities in a dependency case.
- If parents believe that there are not sufficient grounds to keep their child out of their home, they can ask for a temporary custody hearing. During a Temporary Custody Hearing people testify and then the judge decides if there are sufficient reasons to affirm the taking of temporary custody.
- An Initial Dependency Hearing will be set within 21 days after the petition is filed.
- The hearing only takes place if a parent or guardian does not appear for the Preliminary Protective Hearing. ]
- During the Initial Dependency Hearing parents admit to or deny the reasons stated in the petition, and the parents are given notice of their rights and their responsibilities in a dependency case.
In Pre-Trial Conference the parties meet before the Judge try to resolve disagreements in the dependency. If parties cannot arrive at an agreement, then the case must go to trial.
*This hearing may be held at same time as the Disposition Hearing, or they may be held separately on different days.
The Court may send any case with contested issues to mediation. Mediations occur at the Pinal County Court on the 2nd floor in room 2303 and are conducted by a mediator who is employed by Court Administration.
All of the parties in the contested action participate in the mediation (parents, petitioners, parents, guardians, Assistant Attorney General, DCS case manager, attorneys, Guardian Ad Litem). The parties meet with the mediator to seek agreements to unresolved issues regarding visitation, services, placement, custody, and the issues of dependency. The process is confidential. The Court will be advised of only the agreed upon issues. Any agreement reached will be forwarded to the Court for review and approval. The mediation is scheduled for 60 minutes.
If the case remains court involved, there will be a Disposition Hearing during which the court formalizes the case plan. Once the Court has approved the case plan, the parties are expected to comply with it.
*This hearing may be held at same time as the Disposition Hearing, or they may be held separately on different days
Dependency Reviews are held about every 3 – 6 months. During a Dependency Review the Court monitors the progress of the parents in complying with their case plan tasks and also monitors the performance of the Department.
Status Hearings are sometimes set so the Judge can check up on a specific concern between Dependency Review Hearings. Other hearings can also be set to address such things as changes in placement, stopping or starting services, changes in visitation, or changes in custody.
Permanency Hearings are conducted if the child is still out of home after 9–12 months of services. (In some cases, it can be scheduled even earlier.) Usually, options for a permanent plan for a child are:
- Return to parent
- Permanant guardianship
- Long-term foster care
- Arizona Young Adult Program (YAP)