Did you know that there is always a trial in family court when a child is put into foster care? It makes sense, right? I'm pretty sure that I've written before about a judge deciding if a child stays in foster care, but there's more to it than that. Plus, there can sometimes be a criminal trial as well.
Throughout the course of the child's stay in foster care, the case will be revisited in family court on a number of occasions. When the caseworker checks in with the judge, it is called a permanency hearing. The judge will hear how the biological parents are doing with their court-mandated parenting classes, or whatever else they were required to do in order to get their children back, and the judge will determine if progress is being made. The biggest permanency hearing is usually about a year into the child's foster care placement, when it will usually be decided if the child will end up going home to the biological parents or if the child will be put up for adoption.
Sometimes there is a criminal trial happening simultaneously that deals only with the biological parents who have done something wrong. For example, if there was evidence of physical or sexual abuse, if a child was killed, etc., then the biological parents would be dealing with a judge in criminal court while the family court is handling matters related to the foster care placement. In the case of criminal trials, the judge in family court cannot make any final decisions until there is a ruling in the criminal trial. This means that the family court judge cannot decide if a child will be put up for adoption until after the criminal court judge (and/or jury) have ruled on the criminal case.
While there may have been more criminal cases that I do not remember, I only remember there being a criminal trial with one of our foster care cases. Of course, I was little at the time, so I wasn't aware of everything that was happening, but I did know that there was a criminal act being looked into. Now that I'm older, I can look back on the situation and understand why things were postponed with the family trial side of it.
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