You have the right to have an attorney represent you at every hearing in the case. Dependency cases can last anywhere from 3 months to 2 years or more. If you cannot pay for one for the entire length of the case, the judge must appoint an attorney to represent you at public expense.
You must tell the judge at the very first hearing that you need an attorney appointed because you cannot afford one. The judge will appoint you an attorney.
In some counties, the judge will direct you to the public defender's office. In some counties, the judge will refer you to a specific attorney. All attorneys appointed to parents in dependency court in the State of Washington are contractors with the WA State Office of Public Defense Parents Representation Program (visit opd.wa.gov/program/parents-representation). Any concerns or challenges with contacting your attorneys should go to that office.
* Visit opd.wa.gov
to learn more, or call toll free 1-800-414-6064.
If you can pay for an attorney for the entire case, you must hire one. How to find a Lawyer might help with this. You should ask about the attorney's experience in dependency court. Not all family law attorneys have experience working in dependency court.
If you can only pay for an attorney for a few court hearings, but not for the entire case, you are still entitled to be appointed an attorney by the court. In that situation, the court might ask you to contribute to the costs.
* Parents can hire one attorney to represent them both. If you are not living together, or are in different situations, you may each want your own attorney.
You have the right to keep your family together.
- To ask the judge not to take the children out of your home
- To keep in touch with your children, including phone or video calls, and in person visits
- To family time
- To a reunification plan
You have the right to information. CPS must try to notify you as soon as possible that they have taken your children into custody, why they took the children, and what your legal rights are.
The notice must be understandable, considering the language you speak at home, your education, and cultural issues.
You have other rights:
- To take part in your children's health, in school planning, and in plans to support their behavior
- To take part in and talk to CPS to inform reunification plans for you and your children
- To know what the court has ordered you to do before it will return the children
- To see CPS' records and information on your children, with some exceptions
- To information about your children's health, progress in school, and behavior
You have the right to refuse services when the court has not ordered you to do them
You have the right to services ordered by the court to be completed so you can have your children back. DCYF will provide referral to public health insurance to cover the costs of healthcare services, including substance use disorder, therapy, and mental health supports, and to services that DCYF will pay for directly.
DCYF also might send you to an agency that charges for services. If you cannot pay for those services, you can work with your attorney to ask the judge to order DCYF to pay for those services. You can access any publicly funded services through 2-1-1.
Your worker may have funds to help you with housing, clothing, transportation services, and vouchers for other home goods. The worker may also be able to help you apply for medical care, social benefits, childcare, job services, parenting classes, family planning services, mental health services, drug or alcohol abuse programs, and domestic violence or sexual assault survivor programs.