My take-away from the Child Welfare Seminar on February 22, 2013 | Speaker Law
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My take-away from the Child Welfare Seminar on February 22, 2013

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2018

I attended a fantastic SCAO Child Welfare Seminar on February 22, 2013 on "Building a Legal Arsenal to Defend Clients." One of the major recommendations/themes I heard repeated during that conference pertained to what a non-respondent parent should do if the trial court is looking to take jurisdiction of the child due to allegations against the other parent. It is likely that I noted this issue because I have a case pending on appeal where the trial attorneys did not make any attempt to protect the rights of the non-respondent parent, who was the father of the child, but had recently divorced from the child's mother. Several presenters emphasized that the non-respondent parent should request that the child be immediately placed with that non-respondent parent. The only reason a trial court would not make such a placement is if the trial court made a finding that the non-respondent is an unfit parent. Unfortunately, the practice in many counties is to accept a plea to jurisdiction from the parent against whom the allegations have been made, which in turn drags in the non-respondent parent, even though that parent is fit, and even though none of the allegations of abuse and neglect have anything to do with the non-respondent parent. There is a legal presumption that favors a fit parent, so there is no reason that a child should be placed in foster care, or even with another relative, when the non-respondent parent is willing and able to take his child into his home and become the custodial parent.

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