72 Hour Hearings: The First Court Hearing After Removal of a Child by CPS

72 Hour Hearings: The First Court Hearing After Removal of a Child by CPS

            In Washington State, when a child is removed from the home by CPS, by law there must be a court hearing within 72 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) known as a 72 Hour Shelter Care Hearing. CPS is required by law to make reasonable efforts to inform the parents that their child was removed, the reasons why, the date/time/location of the hearing, and their rights at this hearing. A parent’s rights at this hearing include (1) the right to have an attorney represent them, the right to speak on their own behalf, the right to introduce evidence, the right to examine witnesses, and the right to receive a decision based solely on the evidence presented to the judge. They also can contest all things that CPS is requesting, including the need for ongoing out-of-home care pending the dependency trial (this out-of-home care, if ordered by the court at this hearing, is known as “shelter care”). If a parent does not show up, and CPS through testimony proves to the court that reasonable efforts were made to provide them notice, the parent will be “defaulted,” meaning the court will find “shelter care” as to that parent without them being able to exercise their hearing rights.

            The rulings at this hearing are only temporary, with the court’s primary goal a determination on whether the child or children can safely return home pending the resolution of the dependency trial. This hearing does not determine whether the specific allegations in the dependency petition are true or false. That happens at trial. Unfortunately for parents, the burdens of proof and standards for evidence are much lower at a 72 Hour Hearing than a civil or criminal trial (and in turn, the civil dependency trial has much lower burdens of proof than a criminal trial). For the court to find “shelter care,” it generally must only find that there is reasonable cause to believe the child or children can’t safely go home to a parent that day. “Reasonable cause” gives the court broad discretion in making this decision. Additionally, the usual rules of evidence do not apply at this stage – the court only reviews evidence under a “reasonable cause” standard, which, while not clearly defined, allows a lot more evidence to come in that otherwise a parent may be able to object to at a full trial. These relaxed standards, which are arguably quite “anti-parent” at this stage, are because a child’s safety trumps a parent’s fundamental parental rights when the two conflict in the eyes of the court. This unfortunately means that the strong majority of these hearings result in the court finding “shelter care” and ordering that the child or children be in relative, suitable adult, or foster care placement pending the dependency trial. It also means that a parent generally must have a strong case and aggressive representation at this stage to have their child returned home to them that day.

       If you have questions about a dependency case, email us at eliseb@elisebuiefamilylaw.com or call at 206-926-9848 to schedule a consultation. Please note, however, that if you are currently represented by another attorney, we may not be able to speak with you about your case.

STAY UP TO DATE

Subscribe to our newsletters

 
Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.
ebl home subscribe image

FURTHER READING

Latest Blog Posts

A Seattle family law attorney can help if you find you are in a situation where your ex is abusing your pet.

If you are an unmarried couple, a Seattle family law attorney can help you protect your partner through the use of wills and trusts.

A Seattle family law attorney can guide you with next steps should you discover that your spouse has been unfaithful.

An estate planning attorney can help you draft a will or designate some of your property as non-probate assets by creating various trusts.

Not sweating the small stuff is even more important during separation than it is at other times to have an amicable divorce.

Many people delay estate planning because facing sickness and death can be uncomfortable. However, preparation is necessary to have your wishes honored as you intend. With this in mind, consider the following suggestions to stay focused on these estate planning goals.

The thought of how to approach your partner for a divorce can be stressful, even if you believe they will take the news "well.” The upside is there are ways to communicate your intentions that can minimize the uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing while helping to make the conversation go more smoothly.

Probate in Washington state is relatively straightforward, especially with the guidance of a Seattle estate planning attorney at your side. Here is what you need to know.

Unsure where to begin gathering the foundation you need to go through the divorce process with confidence and well-prepared? Consider the following 10 tips to prepare for divorce.

Everyone who has anyone in their life needs an estate plan, even people who own little or no property.