I'm afraid for my grandchildren's environment and safety.
I am routinely involved in cases filed by grandparents and other individuals who fear children are in a dangerous environment, fear for the children's safety, or fear the children have no one to care for them. The facts of these cases can be heartbreaking and I see them in court nearly every week. The case may come to my office after a grandparent, or other person, has called social services requesting some help. Often times, my clients tell me "I called the social worker and they can't do anything about it." Other times, clients say "social service knows about it but they don't do anything." Even if this is true, clients are still concerned about the children.
Kentucky does provide a mechanism for temporary removal of children due to dependency, neglect or abuse
I regularly represent individuals who are concerned their grandchildren or other loved one have become dependent, neglected or abused by their parents, caregiver, or other person exercising custodial control. In this case, a Petition is filed in Family Court or District Court (depending on the county) alleging dependency, neglect or abuse. Sometimes, clients file this petition pro se, or without an attorney.
What happens in court?
The first hearing is usually called a temporary removal hearing. At Court, some petitioners realize the mother, father, other person exercising custodial control, and children may receive court appointed attorneys. However, the person who filed the Petition does NOT receive an attorney. The Petitioner is left to present his or her case without legal assistance. It is always recommended that the Petitioner retain an attorney so that the case may be presented to obtain the best outcome.
During the first hearing the Judge may either continue the emergency placement of the children (if an emergency order was entered ex parte), place the children out of the home of the parents or other person exercising custodial control, or leave the children with the parents or other person exercising custodial control. It is important to note the Court is NOT required to place the children with the Petitioner or grandparent. The Court, in specific cases, can place the children with the state. It is important to have an attorney argue your case.
Ultimately, the case is set for an Adjudication hearing. During this hearing, the Judge determines if dependency, neglect or abuse occurred. If so, the case is scheduled for a Disposition hearing. At the Disposition hearing, all parties desiring custody of the children argue as to temporary placement. Again, it is important to have an attorney represent you in these matters.
Cobie D. Evans, Attorney at Law, PSC is experienced in these cases. We would be happy to discuss the facts of your case. Call 270-928-4620.