Adjudicatory Hearing

In the parlance of Pennsylvania dependency proceedings, the adjudication hearing is the bench trial before a judge or hearing officer for a determination as to whether the child is indeed dependent.

This adjudication hearing must be promptly held, no later than ten days after the petition is filed. Pa. R.J.C.P. 1404(A). If the child is still in the home, the matter may not be as urgent, and thus the hearing can occur within 45 days of the filing date. Pa. R.J.C.P. 1404(B).

All parties to the adjudication hearing should receive formal notification.

Notice of the adjudicatory hearing shall be provided to the agency solicitor, the child’s GAL or legal counsel, parents, the child’s foster parent, preadoptive parent or relative providing care for the child, the county agency, the Court Appointed Special Advocate if assigned and any other persons as directed by the court, including System Professionals where applicable. (Pa.R.J.C.P. 1361).

The burden of proof imposed by law upon the agency is to establish by “clear and convincing evidence” that a finding of dependency be established. 42 Pa. C.S. 6341(c). If the court sustains the allegations of dependency, the child is officially adjudicated dependent. In many jurisdictions, the adjudication and disposition are held jointly as a means to expedite the process.