Dependency Attorney Miami Lakes Fl

Dependency is the process by which the State of Florida ensures the safety and protection of vulnerable children. The Department of Children and Families (referred to as “DCF” or “the Department”) is the agency in Florida tasked with investigating and prosecuting child abuse, abandonment, and neglect. However, Florida law permits anyone who has knowledge of said abused, abandoned, or neglected to bring a Dependency case. Whether you are seeking to defend against allegations of abuse or to bring a legal case to protect abused children, you need to ensure to contact a family law lawyer who specializes in Dependency law. Clients who attempt to manage a dependency matter without legal representation will find themselves terribly “outgunned”, confused, and overwhelmed. You will be facing off against several lawyers alone. As a former senior attorney for the Department of Children and Families in Miami, Annette Sanchez is an expert in the area of Dependency and has the experience necessary to counsel clients through this very complicated and emotional process.


The purpose of Dependency is to help create a safe environment for children, not to punish parents. This is why it is the union of juvenile and family law, rather than criminal law, although there may be a companion criminal case depending on the severity of the allegations. As such, every case presents a unique set of circumstances requiring a careful examination of what will make the children safe. Sometimes, children are only safe if they are removed from the home. But in some instances, a child may remain in the home under the supervision of the Department. Based on the family’s needs, the court will order the parents and children to engage in specific services provided by the Department, including, anger management courses, individual therapy, evidence-based parenting courses, and substance abuse treatment. The court may order several services to occur at once and can order additional services as the case progresses. The purpose is to create safety for the children. It is not the intention of this construct to permanently take away children from their household except in certain circumstances (Termination of Parental Rights tab). The goal is typically to reunify parents with their children and during this entire process, a parent’s parental rights are fully intact. It is actually DCF’s duty to help parents and children obtain the resources needed to achieve reunification. However, time is of the essence when it comes to children; therefore, Florida law has a deadline of approximately a year for reunification to occur. If a parent is unsuccessful in achieving reunification, then the goal is re-evaluated and the DCF attorneys will recommend a different goal.


Dependency law is unique because it unites all areas of family and juvenile law. Often, cases of abuse arise during an ongoing divorce, domestic violence, or paternity matter. Because the Dependency court must make decisions related to divorce matters, including, time-sharing, child custody, child support, and contact between the parents or other relatives, it is inefficient to separate the divorce/paternity matter from dependency, which technically falls under the juvenile legal branch. As such, the State of Florida has implemented a policy where there is one judge for one family, allowing for the ability to determine the rights and responsibilities of parents getting a divorce, while also ensuring a child is safe at home.


Defending clients against allegations of maltreatment towards their child require a Florida bar-approved attorney who not only can dispute the allegations but who can fiercely advocate for how the client continuing to be involved in the child’s life is in the best interest of the minor. As child advocates, Annette Sanchez Law, P.A. effectively represents parents accused of child maltreatment.


Sometimes, a parent or relative has evidence of the maltreatment of a child that requires the Department’s intervention, but, for whatever reason, DCF and their attorneys refuse to be involved. A private practice law firm or lawyer can help you protect the subject child from further harm. However, this is a very difficult process that requires a lawyer who has extensive trial experience and understands this unique area of the law. Most attorneys who handle child support and divorce matters in Miami will not venture into filing a private petition in juvenile court because of the complexity.


Annette Sanchez Law, P.A. is a law firm with offices located in Miami Lakes and specializing in juvenile and family law throughout South Florida. If you have been contacted by DCF or have evidence of a child being unsafe in a home, do not rely on an attorney who mainly does divorces. In Miami, a typical divorce lawyer does not offer the appropriate service you need. Contact a known child welfare attorney with experience in dealing with the Department who can navigate the complicated system while defending your rights (and the rights of the child) zealously in the legal proceedings.

Disclaimer: Nothing on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Please call or email our office to schedule a phone call, videoconference, or in-person consultation in our office located in Miami-Lakes, Miami-Dade County, Fl.

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