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The DCF Process to Get Your Children Back

Parents Desire to Get Their Children Back from DCF Quickly

Many of my DCF dependency clients, understandably, want to get their children back quickly when they hire AAA Family Law. After all, their children have been abruptly taken from them, while someone else (either a foster parent or a relative) is raising them. What makes the situation even more intolerable is that a single petition drafted by an attorney of the Department of Children and Families, usually filled with questionable and irrelevant accusations, created this injustice. To my clients, the experience feels like serving time in jail without being convicted.

Trust the Process, but Not the System

After empathizing with the difficulty of their situations, I instruct my dependency clients to “trust the process”. To be clear, this does not mean “trust the system”. By no means will I ever completely trust DCF or any of the other players. However, effectively battling DCF requires going through the process of taking certain steps that require time. The completion of these steps improves that parent’s chances of reunifying with their children.

Steps in the DCF Process to Get Your Children Back

  1. Unless there is a bonafide emergency situation (which is rare), hold off on filing adversarial motions early on, they are unlikely to succeed. Motions such as (a) setting aside the initial shelter order (b) or asking for immediate and early reunification, almost never work. However, they do delay the parent’s sought-after trial.

  2. I tell almost all of my dependency clients to deny the allegations in the petition for dependency at the arraignment hearing. This guarantees them a trial within thirty days, which allows them to maintain leverage against DCF. This leverage during the trial results from DCF having the burden to show that the offending parent has abandoned, abused, or neglected the child(ren). If you consent to a case plan, it relieves DCF of that burden and allows them to indefinitely extend the case plan by arbitrarily adding more tasks based on illusory “concerns”.

  3. If you deny the petition for dependency, DCF has been known to simply dismiss the petition, or agree to an immediate reunification with only monthly “check-in” household visits immediately prior to the trial, if the case against the offending parent is weak, DCF generally does not like to sacrifice time and other resources for a trial when the odds are against it.

    Even when the client has not agreed in writing to state dependency and a case plan, I usually advise him or her to voluntarily perform the case plan tasks anyway. By the trial date, my client’s substantial completion of what DCF wanted the parent to do makes DCF and the dependency judge more comfortable with an immediate reunification.

While this process is actually shorter than most other family law custody battles in divorce and paternity cases, to an anxious parent, it may still seem like it takes too long. This is when you must trust the process to accomplish the best result possible.

How to Schedule an Initial Consultation at AAA Family Law

If you are considering hiring a family lawyer to represent you in your DCF dependency case, I encourage you to schedule a free initial consultation with me at AAA Family Law by calling (407) 260-6001 or completing the Consultation Email Form under Contact Information.

At the consultation I will: (a) listen to your description of your DCF case, (b) outline your legal options to respond to DCF and a plan of legal action and (c) quote you the fixed attorney retainer fees I will charge for the case, not an hourly rate whose total you cannot not predict.

The attorney fees for DCF cases range between $2,500 and $4,000. The actual fee within this range depends on the degree of complexity of your case. See Our Retainer Fee Policies for information on court costs.



Call, If on Cell Phone, Click on (407) 260-6001 to Arrange a Consultation Time

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AAA Family Law

283 Cranes Roost Blvd., Suite 111

Altamonte Springs, Florida 32701

AAA Family Law is located in Altamonte Springs and serves clients throughout the Orlando Metro Area including, but not limited to, the following cities and unincorporated areas, by county: Orange County: Apopka, Bay Lake, Maitland, Ocoee, Orlando, Union Park, Winter Garden, and Winter Park; Seminole County: Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Lake Mary, Longwood, Oviedo, Sanford, and Winter Springs; Volusia County: Daytona Beach, DeBary, DeLand, Deltona, and Orange City; Lake County: Clermont, Leesburg, and Mount Dora; Osceola County: Buena Ventura Lakes, Celebration, and Kissimmee; Orange, Lake, Osceola, and Polk Counties: Four Corners; Orange and Seminole Counties: Goldenrod.