Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

11.25 Adjudication Hearing

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 11-CPS Court
11.25 Adjudication Hearing

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Legal Authority/Introduction


Practice Guidance

  • The adjudication hearing is the trial process in which the court determines whether allegations of dependency, abuse or neglect concerning a child are true and sustained by the evidence presented by the county attorney and SSW on behalf of the cabinet.
  • In all cases, the legal rights of interested parties are affected by the adjudication, and they therefore are entitled to notice as a matter of constitutional law.
  • If the allegations in the petition filed by the SSW seeking court intervention on behalf of the child are found to be true by a preponderance of evidence during the adjudication hearing the:
    • Court may proceed to the disposition stage; and
    • The SSW may be able to secure the cooperation of the parents who have denied any problems exist. 
  • A clear record of the facts established by the county attorney and SSW at the adjudication hearing may be useful in later legal proceedings to:
    • Foreclose later factual disputes;
    • Determine who shall have responsibility for the child and under what conditions;
    • Provide the basis for state intervention into a family; and
    • Proceed to the dispositional hearing to address the nature of such intervention.
  • The SSW should be aware that the adjudication hearing and dispositional hearing are held at separate times, but in certain cases may be addressed at the same hearing. 
  • It may be appropriate for the SSW to allow the dispositional hearing to follow immediately after the adjudicatory phase of the process if:
    • All required reports are available and have been received by all parties or their attorneys at least three (3) days in advance of the hearing and the judge has had the opportunity to review the reports after the adjudication; or
    • The SSW is prepared to make a verbal recommendation as to the disposition of the child. If the disposition is to be commitment, the waiver is not valid unless the Cabinet consents. The SSW requests from the court, time to prepare a pre-dispositional investigation report for the court regarding disposition if they are not ready to make a verbal recommendation.


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