Dependency petitions are generally filed when allegations of abuse or neglect are made.  If the county agency feels the parents are unable to care for their children, the file a dependency petition.  A dependency petition alleges that the children have no parent able to provide for the care of the child(ren) and thus, the child(ren) are “dependent” upon the County, thus a “dependency” petition.  If the county agency has taken a baby away with an ex parte court order and/or an informal hearing the county agency is supposed to file a dependency petition within 48 hours.  A hearing on the dependency petition is supposed to be scheduled within 10 days of the filing of the dependency petition.  With certain exceptions, a hearing is supposed to be held at least every 10 days until the dependency petition is determined.  Parents are supposed to receive notice of the informal hearing and any other hearings.  Although rarely enforced, there is a provision that requires release of the child back to the parent if, through no fault of the child or parent, the hearing is not held within 10 days.  Many court appointed and private attorneys either do not know of this provision or are unwilling to pursue release of the child because it necessitates an appeal to Superior court.  The informal hearing as well as the dependency hearing itself can be heard by a Master or by a judge.  The informal hearing is sometimes referred to as the shelter hearing or detention hearing.

If you are in this situation you may want to consult with Mr. Freeman about your case.  Mr. Freeman practices law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  You can contact Mr. Freeman at or 1-800-580-0084.

This web page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.   You should consult a competent attorney your specific case.

Pennsylvania Counties that file dependency petitions:

Adams County Lackawanna County
Allegheny County Lancaster County
Armstrong County Lawrence County
Beaver County Lebanon County
Bedford County Lehigh County
Berks County Luzerne County
Blair County Lycoming County
Bradford County McKean County
Bucks County Mercer County
Butler County Mifflin County
Cambria County Monroe County
Cameron County Montgomery County
Carbon County Montour County
Centre County Northampton County
Chester County Northumberland County
Clarion County Perry County
Clearfield County Philadelphia County
Clinton County Pike County
Columbia County Potter County
Crawford County Schuylkill County
Cumberland County Snyder County
Dauphin County Somerset County
Delaware County Sullivan County
Elk County Susquehanna County
Erie County Tioga County
Fayette County Union County
Forest County Venango County
Franklin County Warren County
Fulton County Washington County
Greene County Wayne County
Huntingdon County Westmoreland County
Indiana County Wyoming County
Jefferson County York County
Juniata County

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  • Mark Freeman is an attorney that got involved in defending those accused of shaking a child when a close friend was charged with child abuse for allegedly shaking his son.
  • After spending hundreds of hours investigating, reading medical journal articles and speaking with doctors from around the country about shaken baby syndrome, Mark confirmed with science what he knew in his heart, that his friend was innocent and that the doctors were wrong.
  • Since that first case, Mark has vigorously defended innocent parents of false charges of child abuse, regained custody of children for innocent parents and has defended innocent parents of criminal charges. Mark is now pursuing civil rights lawsuits in cases where false accusations of child abuse resulted in the violation of parents' civil rights.
  • Mark is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and consults with local attorneys in other states. Email Mark at or call Mark at: 1-800-580-0084