Dependency Hearing Descriptions

Parents have a fundamental right to parent their children, and this right is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Due to the constitutional implications of being denied your fundamental right to parent, you are entitled to an attorney to represent you in these matters, if you are indigent. A majority of our clients are not employed and do not have any funds so we are routinely appointed.

Clients can hire private counsel if they want and can afford to do so.

Sometimes the court also appoints the Office of the Public Advocate and requires parents to pay something towards the attorneys’ fees if the parent has income sufficient to do so. This happens on a case by case and judge by judge basis.
  1. Glossary
  2. Hearings A-L
  3. Hearings M-Z

Child Protective Services (CPS)


Through the Department of Economic Security (DES or “department”), CPS is invested by the state with the power to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect against children.

If CPS removes a child from a parent, a Temporary Custody Notice (TCN) is served upon the parent. Once removed the department has a Team Decision making meeting (TDM) to discuss, with the parents and other family members, the options available.

The department must either return the child within 72 hours of their removal or file a dependency petition alleging that the child is dependent.

Dependent Child


A dependent child is a child who does not have a parent willing or able to provide proper and effective parental care and control, a child who has not been provided with the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter, or a child whose home is unfit due to abuse or neglect.

Abuse can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

Neglect means failing to provide for the child’s basic needs to such a degree that there is a risk of harm to the child as a result.

The majority of the Dependency Petitions are filed by the Department, however, in Arizona any interested party may file a petition. We refer to these petitions as private petitions.

Guardian Ad Litem


Guardian Ad Litems are attorneys who are appointed to represent the best interests of the children. They do not advocate for what the child wants but rather what they believe to be in the child’s best interests. In cases with children over 12 years of age, the court may appoint an attorney for the child who advocates for the child’s wishes.

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)


The Indian Child Welfare Act is a federal law which requires that different procedures and standards be utilized if the child is an enrolled member of an Indian tribe or is eligible for enrollment.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)


The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is a law which requires states to cooperate with each other in cases where children will be placed in another state.