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Terms Commonly Heard in Juvenile Court Proceedings


Any individual who is:

  • Under the age of 18 years;
  • Under the age of 17 years when alleged to have committed a delinquent act;
  • Under the age of 22 years and in the care of DFCS as a result of being adjudicated dependent before reaching 18 years of age;
  • Under the age of 23 years and eligible for and receiving independent living services through DFCS as a result of being adjudicated dependent before reaching 18 years of age; or
  • Under the age of 21 years who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 17 years and who has been placed under the supervision of the court or on probation to the court for the purpose of enforcing orders of the court. ¬†

Dependent Child:

 A child who:

  • Has been abused or neglected and is in need of the protection of the court;
  • has been placed for care or adoption in violation of the law; or
  • Is without his or her parent, guardian, or legal custodian.


72- Hour Hearing:

(Preliminary Protective Hearing)

Must be held within 72 hours after the dependent child is taken into foster care (excluding weekends and holidays).  This hearing allows the court to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a child is a dependent child and whether protective custody of a child is necessary to prevent abuse or neglect pending the hearing on the dependency petition.  Parents must be given reasonable notice of the hearing and are made aware of what is in the complaint.  Parents are also given the option to obtain an attorney.


10-Day Hearing:

(Adjudicatory Hearing, Formal Hearing or Trial)

If the subject child is in foster care, must be held within 10 days of filing the petition alleging dependency.  If the subject child is not in foster care, must be held no later than 60 days after filing the petition alleging dependency.  The primary focus of this hearing is to determine whether the child was dependent at the time the dependency complaint was signed.   All persons with first hand knowledge of the issues have to personally testify.   If the petition is true, the court makes a decision based on findings of fact and conclusions of law.



The right to a child's care and control, carrying with it the responsibility of providing food, shelter, medical care, education and discipline.   An agency may have custody of a child, but not be the primary caretaker or party giving day to day care.



Term describing the legal status of a custodian of a juvenile which confers certain rights and responsibilities, including the requirement to provide for the child's physical, spiritual and mental needs, and the ability to register the child for school, obtain medical care and provide legal consent when needed.   Guardianship may be granted by Probate Court or Juvenile Court.   The guardian may be eligible for a financial subsidy from DFCS.


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