Dependency Court handles all matters relating to juveniles who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected, surrendered for the purpose of adoption, or who are persistent runaways, habitually truant or ungovernable.

Policies & Procedures Regarding Dependency

NOTE: THESE ARE GENERAL POLICIES FOR THE 12th Circuit. Individual counties within the circuit may have additional requirements. Please verify the specific division requirements.

  1. Attorneys may not appear telephonically.
  2. Parents without allegations who reside out of state or county may not appear telephonically but rather will be represented by counsel.
  3. Parties must appear in person or their presence will be deemed waived unless good cause is shown and unless the parties comply with the provisions below in paragraphs 7 and 8.
  4. Incarcerated parties who are housed out of county may appear telephonically in the discretion of the court and in accordance with paragraphs 7 and 8 below.
  5. Other interested persons, such as tribal counsel, may appear telephonically with prior approval of the court and as set forth below in paragraphs 7 and 8.
  6. A request for telephonic appearance must be received by the court no later than 5 business days before the court date. This request must acknowledge that the requesting party has provided a valid number, will have a notary public present in the event testimony is needed, and understands that the case will be scheduled as set forth below in paragraphs 7 and 8. Telephonic evidentiary hearings are permitted only in the discretion of the court and in accordance with the Rules of Judicial Administration.
  7. All cases with telephonic appearances will be set at a specific time (Manatee County will hear telephonic matters in the afternoon at the conclusion of the regular docket; Sarasota County will hear telephonic cases at the conclusion of the docket; DeSoto County will hear telephonic cases at  1:30 pm. The party appearing telephonically will be on standby to receive the call within a two hour window. The court will not make multiple calls in the event the number is busy or voice mail picks up.
  8. The court may deny any request to appear telephonically.
  9. Contested motions, such as motions for reunification, to change placement or to amend a case plan goal, must be scheduled with the JA/JACS at a specific time and must be coordinated with all other counsel. These matters will not be heard during the scheduled judicial reviews or other proceedings. The moving party must file a notice of hearing on the motion in accordance with the local rules. Uncontested matters may be addressed without scheduling a separate hearing. Requests to add a concurrent goal may be addressed at the judicial review or status without prior written notice.
  10. Case plans should be approved and signed prior to the arraignment. 
  11. Parties who must be served with a petition or amended petition should be identified by the Department and provided with their paperwork prior to their case being called in court.

Dependency Court Improvement Committee

Purpose: Recommend strategies to enhance the court processing of Dependency and Delinquency cases based on the assessment of current practices and case processing results.

Mission: To open dialogue, improve coordination of services, and to make the system more responsive to the needs of those within it.

If you have any questions, please contact

Monica Ausborn
(941) 749-3600 x7098