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Turning around lives one child at a time.

Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse

Dependent cases involve children who are not being cared for by their parents or guardians. Neglect cases involve children who are not being provided with basic needs such as food, shelter, and medical care. Abuse cases involve children who have been physically or emotionally harmed by their parents or guardians.

from the bench

Types of Hearings

Shelter Care Hearing/Emergency Temporary Custody (ETC) Hearing: the initial hearings after a child is removed from his/her home at which time the court makes a determination whether the child should continue to be removed from the home pending further court hearings.

Pre-trial Hearing: an opportunity for the child's attorney and the prosecutor to review the evidence in the case and attempt to resolve the matter.

Adjudication Hearing: when the court determines that a child is delinquent, unruly, dependent, neglected, or abused.

Dispositional Hearing: a hearing held at which time the court determines who shall have custody of the child after a child has been found to be a dependent, neglected or abused child at the adjudicatory hearing.

Review Hearing: takes place approximately every 90 days. Parties to the case report on how the children are doing, what services they participate with, if they need additional services, and report on parents' case plan progress. 

Motion Hearing: this hearing can take place at any time, as long as it is filed by Summit County Children Services, the prosecutor, CASA attorney, or defendants' attorney. Commonly for a change in custody, visits, placement, or extensions. 

Sunset Hearing: the one-year point, and the court is looking for a permanent plan. If the parents have made substantial progress on their case plans, a motion can be filed for a 6-month extension. After a total of 18 months, if the parents have made significant progress, a motion can be filed for an additional 6-month extension. After 24-months (2 years) a permanent decision must be made.

Permanent Custody Trial: termination of parental rights, and Summit County Children Services takes custody. The child is often made available for an adoption. 

Legal Custody Trial: the Magistrate or Judge determines who becomes the legal custodian of the child and gains the right to have physical care and control of the child and to determine where and with whom the child shall live, and the right and duty to protect, train, and discipline the child and to provide the child with food, shelter, education, and medical care. Even once legal custody is awarded, parents maintain residual parental rights, privileges, and responsibilities. Legal custody is intended to be permanent.

Common Court Orders

Upon completion of the court hearings referenced above, Summit County Juvenile Court will issue orders requiring parties to the case to work towards the goals and objectives of the case plan filed by Summit County Children Services. Case plans address the contributing factors that have led to the abuse and/or neglect of a child. Case plans provide clear and specific guides for the famiily in order to achieve reunification. In addition to ordering parties to the case to abide by case plan ob

Attorney Help Desk

Summit County Juvenile Court realizes how difficult it is to navigate through the juvenile justice system without counsel from an attorney. Summit County Juvenile Court also understands that completing the paperwork presented to people involved in the process can be a difficult undertaking. With that in mind, the court has enlisted local attorneys who have agreed to staff the Attorney Help Desk. The Attorney Help Desk will:

  • Be available on Wednesdays from 9 to 11:45 a.m. In-person and virtual appointments are available.
  • Provide assistance at no charge.
  • Provide guidance on how to complete the forms; such as: Grandparent Power of Attorney, Modifications of Custody, Subpoenas, Service of Process, and more. 

To register for a virtual appointment, please click here. Summit County Juvenile Court also asks that you forward an email to and indicated that you would like to attend Attorney Help Desk virtually via Zoom. A link to the Zoom meeting will be emailed to you.

Multidisciplinary Representation Team

Summit County Juvenile Court’s Multidisciplinary Representation Team (MRT) includes nine attorneys, two case coordinators, and two parent advocates. Together, the team of 13 works to improve and expedite positive outcomes for children and parents involved in the child welfare system.

Research shows that through this approach, children of parents represented by a multidisciplinary team spent almost four months less in foster care and achieved permanency, including reunification and guardianship, faster than children of parents who received solo attorney representation (Children & Youth Services Review, 2019).



A document listing family strengths and objectives parents must complete to no longer be court involved. The case plan must be filed before the adjudicatory hearing. At the dispositional hearing the case plan is modified if necessary and becomes a court order.

A person who has been granted legal custody of a child, or when Summit County Juvenile Court grants temporary custody to Summit County Children Serivces.

A person who is appointed by Summit County Juvenile Court to represent a child's best interests in the child welfare court proceedings.

Police remove children from their home when they are in immediate danger, or lack adult supervision.

A term used to describe an arrangement when relatives or close famly friends step forward to offer their home, food, and love to a child or children whose parents cannot care for them.

A legal status that gives the custodian the right and responsibility to have physical care and control of the child, subject to the rights of the parents. Legal custody does not terminate parental rights.

A legal status where Summit County Children Services is granted all parental rights, duties, and obligations to the child, including the right to consent to adoption, and all the parental rights, privileges, and obligations of the parents are terminated permanently.

When the court gives legal custody of the child to Summit County Children Services without terminating the parents' rights and Summit County Children Services is permitted to place the child with an appropriate foster care provider.

When a parent or other party to the case represents his/her interests in the case to the court without the representation or assistance of an attorney.

When the court permits a child who is found to be abused, neglected or dependent to remain in the custody of his/her parent(s) subject to supervision and conditions set forth by the court and Summit County Children Services.

Occurs when a child is removed from his/her home and custody of the child is granted to Summit County Children Services or another person other than the parent. Temporary custody may be terminated at any time at the discretion of the court.
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