In DSS cases, a merits hearing can be a hearing to decide whether a parent or a person acting as a parent abused, neglected or put at risk a child. The Court may determine if that parent should lose his or her custody of a child and whether the child should be removed from the home.
In some cases an adult involved in a merits hearing may be placed in the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Can You Lose Custody of Your Child in a Merits Hearing?
If your child is removed he or she may be placed in foster care.
If the judge removes the child from your home, he or she may order a placement plan. A placement plan essentially tells a parent or person acting as a parent what he or she needs to do to get the child back.
The placement plan will usually include things such as:
- The services that will be offered to you, such as parenting classes, anger management programs, etc.
- How much child support you have to pay while your child is in foster care.
- Visitation schedules, in cases where the judge feels visitation is safe for the child and in the child's best interest.
- Services offered to the child.
- What else needs to be accomplished or maintained before you can have the child back such as income requirements, utilities in home, or a properly functioning home with working plumbing and electrical systems.
If you are involved in a DSS case and would like to discuss it with an attorney, please contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry by calling toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a confidential consultation.