On occasion, the judge may set an interim hearing, if requested, for the home of a relative or parent to be investigated, so that the children can be placed there, and not in foster care.

I find that these types of hearings are being used less and less; and being asked for less and less by the defense attorneys. Technically, this type of hearing is not authorized by the letter of the law (the statutes), but I’ve always argued that such a hearing can be held under the court’s discretionary power, especially where the spirit of the law requires children to be placed with relatives instead of foster homes. But if the occasion arises, it is always helpful for a family if the social worker is ordered to do the relative placement investigation by a certain date, with a report back to the court on a certain date.

Obviously, this can accelerate the placement of the children with family.

Problems arise when the social worker’s report is disputed by the family member, then the question becomes, “will the judge allow some sort of contested hearing on this issue?”

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