What Attorneys are Available to Help in the Juvenile Dependency Court?
There are many attorneys in the Juvenile Dependency Court. Indigent parents are entitled to an attorney at no cost. An indigent parent is one whose income is less than the limits established by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Representation for indigent parents is normally provided by the Juvenile Dependency Counsel. Other attorneys are prepared to represent parents should there be a conflict of interest. Children are normally represented by the East Bay Children's Law Office (EBCLO). The Office of County Counsel represents the Social Services Agency. Parents sometimes secure private lawyers.
A. County Counsel:
The office of the County Counsel represents the Social Services Agency in juvenile dependency cases. The office is located at: 1221 Oak Street, 4th Floor, Oakland, California 94612. The telephone number is (510) 272-6700.
B. Juvenile Dependency Counsel:
Juvenile Dependency Counsel, Inc. provides legal representation for parents whose children are before the Juvenile Dependency Court. The office is located at 1440 Broadway, Suite 814, Oakland, CA 94612. The telephone number is (510) 268-1591.
C. East Bay Children's Law Office (EBCLO):
EBCLO normally represents the the children involved in juvenile dependency cases. The office has two locations - one in Oakland, and one in Hayward. The Oakland office is located at 1404 Franklin Street Suite 400, Oakland, CA 94612. The telephone is (510) 496-5200, and fax number is (510) 496-5250. The Hayward office is 24301 Southland Drive Suite 504, Hayward, CA 94545. The telephone number is (510) 496-5260, and the fax number is (510) 887-0936. For more information, please visit EBCLO's website.
Where Do I File Papers For Juvenile Dependency Court?
The Superior Court Clerk has an office on the first floor at 24405 Amador Street, Hayward, California, and 1225 Fallon Street, 1st Floor, Oakland, California. The offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on all court days. Persons wishing to file papers for matters in the Juvenile Dependency Court, should file them at these offices. The public telephone numbers for the Clerk’s office in Hayward is (510) 670-5393, and in Oakland is (510) 618-1188. (Please contact the Juvenile Court Administrative Office at (510) 618-1130 for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation requests.) All cases are confidential. No information will be given over the telephone. Entitled parties wishing access to court files must come to the office and present a photo identification.
Who Represents Dependent Children in Court?
EBCLO usually represents children who are hurt or neglected by their parents or caretakers. EBCLO is appointed to represent a child when that child is brought to the attention of the Juvenile Dependency Court. This happens when a petition is filed under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 300.
This code covers the abuse or neglect of a child, usually by a parent or caretaker. Reports of abuse and neglect can come from a family friend, a neighbor, or one who is required to report abuse or neglect such as a therapist, a school official, or other child care provider. When a violation of law is involved, a police officer will also investigate. A social worker decides if the family should go to Court. If a petition is filed to bring the case to Court, EBCLO is appointed as the child’s lawyer. Children are parties in the Dependency Court proceeding.
Juvenile Court is the only court where children have the right to speak on their own behalf. They also have the right to a lawyer. In Dependency Court in Alameda County, all children are given a lawyer. It is the job of the child’s lawyer to make sure the court knows what the child wants. However, when the child is too young to speak, the lawyer will represent the best interest of the child. While the child’s attorney must always tell the Court what the child wishes, the lawyer is not allowed to recommend returning the child to his/her home unless it is safe for the child. The lawyers working with EBCLO are involved in seeing that the children they represent have appropriate placements, that they are in the right schools, and that they are receiving appropriate services from the social worker.
If you have general questions about the Juvenile Dependency Court, or the law that requires certain people to report abuse and neglect, please contact us in Hayward at (510) 670-690-2710, in Oakland and San Leandro at (510) 618-1188. Court staff is prohibited from giving legal advice. If you need legal assistance, please contact the Alameda County Bar Association
Who Are Parties in a Juvenile Dependency Proceeding?
A. Parties: A party is a person who has the right to be present, to be heard and to be represented by counsel at a court proceeding. The following are parties in a Juvenile Dependency Proceeding:
- The mother
- The father
- The child
- The social worker
- A legal guardian for the child
- A de facto parent
B. What are Common Legal Issues Regarding Fathers?
The Juvenile Court must determine who the legal father is for each child who appears before the Court. If the child was born to parents who are married, it is presumed that the husband is the father of the child. If the parents were not married when the child was born, the court may have to establish paternity. Paternity can be established by taking blood tests or after a paternity hearing at which questions are asked by the court regarding the relationship between the parents. It is also possible that paternity has been established in other legal proceedings. If the parents have appeared in Family Court or in child support proceedings with the District Attorney, it is possible that paternity was established in those legal proceedings.
The juvenile court will inquire about the paternity (fatherhood) of any child who is the subject of a petition filed pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 300
. The law has established different categories of fathers:
- Legal Father - a man who the law finds to be the father of a child. The finding may be based on marriage, voluntary declaration (Family Code sections 7570 et seq) a finding by the court, or other means.
- Alleged Father - a man who is not the legal father of a child but whom someone states is the father of that child.
- Presumed Father - a man who is not the legal father of a child but whom the law finds is a father deserving special legal status. An example is an unmarried man who receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child (Family Code section 7611).
- Biological Father - the man who provided the sperm that produced a child.
D. De Facto Parents:
A de facto parent is a person who the court finds has had day-to-day care of the child who is before the court and who otherwise qualifies for that status. The de facto parent may both (1) be present and (2) present evidence at the hearing, and may be represented by retained counsel, or at the court’s discretion, by appointed counsel. The form for applications for de facto parent status are available by clicking on the rules/ forms
, or in the Court Clerk’s Office at any of the Juvenile Dependency Court facilities.
E. What Other Persons May Be Involved In Juvenile Dependency Proceedings?
Relatives are normally welcome to attend hearings at Juvenile Dependency Court. The Juvenile Court needs to know the names, addresses, and other identifying information for all relatives as they may be possible placements and support for the child and other family members. Relatives are preferred placements for children who have been removed from their parents. (Relative/Kinship forms will be supplied by the appropriate court-appointed attorneys.)
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA):
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (also known as CASA or Child Advocate) is a person authorized by the court to provide advocacy and mentoring services to children in Dependency court. Each Child Advocate is recruited, screened, trained, and supervised in his or her activities. The Child Advocate is appointed by the Juvenile Court to visit the child regularly and to help define the best interests of the child in juvenile dependency court proceedings. A Child Advocate may appear at all hearings and have access to records relating to the child. A Child Advocate may also be heard at all hearings.
To learn more about CASA, please visit their website at http://www.casaofalamedacounty.org/.