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Arizona Superior Court in Pima County
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What hearings may be held

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What hearings may be held?

Pre-Hearing Conference (PHC)

When does it happen, and why:

The PHC is a meeting held just before the Preliminary Protective Hearing (PPH). It must be scheduled within 5-7 business days after the child’s removal.

The PHC will address three topics:

●  The child’s Placement (where the child will live during this process).
 
●  The Services (case plan) that parents must begin.
 
●  The Visitation arrangements between the parents and children.
 

Agreement reached:

The goal of the PHC is to try to have all parties come to an agreement about the plan for placement, services, and visitation. If there is no agreement, the judge will make final decisions.

Other topics discussed:

●  An assessment may have been completed on the children called the Rapid Response Assessment. The assessment covers how the child is doing and any recommendations for services that the child may need.
 
●  A Child and Family Team (CFT) Meeting is scheduled. This meeting is held monthly to discuss any services that the family may need.
 

Who can attend:

Parents, the children, DCS and their attorney, attorneys for the parents and children, placement for the children, and family support.

Preliminary Protective Hearing (PPH)

When does it happen, and why:

The PPH is held just after the PHC.  It is the first dependency hearing in the process and is scheduled 5-7 business days after the child’s removal. The judge will review the placement, services, and visitation that were discussed at the PHC.

If there was no agreement on placement, services, and/or visitation, the judge will decide how to proceed. The judge will enter temporary orders for placement, visitation, and services.

Other things accomplished at the PPH:

●  Attorneys will be appointed for qualified parties. The parties in a dependency case are the children, the parents, and any legal guardian.
 
●  Parents will enter a plea to the allegations as stated in the petition.
 
●  Parents are given a notice of their rights and responsibilities.
 

Temporary custody:

If parents believe that there are not sufficient grounds to keep the children out of the home they can ask for a temporary custody hearing.

When does it happen, and why:

The Status Adjudication hearing happens approximately 30 days after the PPH. At the Status Adjudication hearing, the parties in the case will try to resolve the question of whether or not a dependency exists.

The allegations of the petition will be reviewed and the parents may choose enter an admission at the hearing.

Findings:

If the parent admits to the allegations in the petition, the judge will find that a dependency exists.

If there the parent is not willing to admit to the allegations in the petition, the judge will schedule facilitated settlement conference (mediation) and a trial.

When does it happen and why:

The facilitated settlement conference is a mediation that is held if there is no resolution at the Status Adjudication hearing.  It is held after the Status Adjudication hearing.  The facilitated settlement conference is done without the judge present.

A Facilitated Settlement Conference may also be scheduled instead of a Status Adjudication hearing.

What happens:

●  The mediator works with the parties to see if the issue of “whether a dependency exists” can be settled without a trial.
 
●  The strengths and weaknesses of each side is discussed.
 
●  Legal process and choices are clarified.
 
●  Paperwork is completed if agreement is reached.
 
●  If agreement, the trial is cancelled and new court hearings are set.
 
●  Communication issues can be addressed.
 
●  Safety plan can be worked out.
 
●  Language to the dependency petition can be negotiated and changed.
 
●  Case plan, placement and visitation issues can be discussed.
 
●  If there is no agreement, the trial will move forward.
 

When does this happen, and why:

A Contested Dependency Trial occurs when no agreement is reached at the Status Adjudication Hearing for Facilitated Settlement Conference regarding whether or not a dependency exists. The Trial must occur within 90 days from the date the petition was filed, in some cases it can be continued for an additional 30 days if the judge orders it.

Findings:

At the Trial, all parties will present their evidence and arguments about the case. The judge will determine whether or not a dependency exists as to each child. If the judge determines that a dependency exists, the case will continue.

If the judge determines a dependency does not exist, the dependency petition is dismissed and the case is closed.

When does this happen, and why?

The Disposition Hearing usually happens at the same time as the Status Adjudication or Facilitated Settlement Conference if the judge determines that a dependency exists.  If it does not occur at the same time as the Status Adjudication or Facilitated Settlement Conference, it must be scheduled within 30 days of the Status Adjudication, Facilitated Settlement Conference, or Trial.  

The Court will formalize the case plan at the Disposition Hearing. Once the Court has approved the case plan, the parents are expected to complete the case plan tasks.

When does this happen, and why:

The Dependency Review Hearing must be held before a judge no more than six months after Disposition. After the first Dependency Review, additional Dependency Review Hearings must occur at least every six months until the case is closed.

In Pima County, Dependency Review Hearings usually occur every three months.

At Review Hearings the Court monitors the parents' progress in case plan compliance, how the children are doing, and whether DCS is providing appropriate services.

A Status Hearing can be set between Dependency Review Hearings in order for the judge to check up on a specific concern.

Some may include:

Placement changes
 
Services changes
 
Visitation changes
 
Custody changes
 

When does this happen, and why:

For children who are 3 years old and over:

A Permanency Hearing is scheduled within one year after the child was removed from the home.

For children who were under 3 at the time of removal:

A Permanency Hearing is scheduled within six months after the child was removed from the home.

The purpose of the Permanency Hearing is to determine whether the permanent plan for the child is appropriate or should be changed.

The options for a permanent plan include:

●  Return to Parent (Reunification).
 
●  Adoption
 
●  Permanent Guardianship
 
●  Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA)