587A-28 Return hearing. (a) When a petition has been filed, the court shall conduct a return hearing within fifteen days of:

(1) The filing of the petition; or

(2) The date a decision is announced by the court during a temporary foster custody hearing.

(b) At the return hearing, if it is established that a party required to be notified has not been served prior to the hearing, the court shall:

(1) Order the method of service of summons that the court deems to be appropriate, based upon the available information; and

(2) Set a continued return hearing and:

(A) May waive the appearance of any party at the continued return hearing; and

(B) If service of summons is ordered to be made by mail or publication, shall set the continued return hearing no less than twenty-one days after the date of service as evidenced by the signature of the recipient on a return receipt or the date of the last publication.

(c) At a continued return hearing, the court shall:

(1) Enter the default of the party who was served but failed to appear at the continued return hearing;

(2) Order the party who was served to appear on the date of the next scheduled hearing in the case; or

(3) Set a hearing on the oral motion to vacate prior orders, if a party appears at the hearing and moves the court to vacate or modify prior orders. The moving party shall file a written motion and serve the other parties with proper written notice of the motion and the hearing date.

(d) At the return hearing, the court shall decide:

(1) Whether the child's physical or psychological health or welfare has been harmed or is subject to threatened harm by the acts or omissions of the child's family;

(2) Whether the child should be placed in foster custody or under family supervision; and

(3) What services should be provided to the child's parents.

(e) If the court finds that the child's physical or psychological health or welfare has been harmed or is subject to threatened harm by the acts or omissions of the child's family, the court:

(1) Shall enter a finding that the court has jurisdiction pursuant to section 587A-5;

(2) Shall enter a finding regarding whether, before the child was placed in foster care, the department made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the child from the child's family home;

(3) Shall enter orders:

(A) That the child be placed in foster custody if the court finds that the child's remaining in the family home is contrary to the welfare of the child and the child's parents are not willing and able to provide a safe family home for the child, even with the assistance of a service plan; or

(B) That the child be placed in family supervision if the court finds that the child's parents are willing and able to provide the child with a safe family home with the assistance of a service plan;

(4) Shall determine whether aggravated circumstances are present.

(A) If aggravated circumstances are present, the court shall:

(i) Conduct a permanency hearing within thirty days, and the department shall not be required to provide the child's parents with an interim service plan or interim visitation; and

(ii) Order the department to file, within sixty days after the court's finding that aggravated circumstances are present, a motion to terminate parental rights unless the department has documented in the safe family home factors or other written report submitted to the court a compelling reason why it is not in the best interest of the child to file a motion.

(B) If aggravated circumstances are not present or there is a compelling reason why it is not in the best interest of the child to file a motion to terminate parental rights, the court shall order that the department make reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the child's parents and order an appropriate service plan;

(5) Shall order reasonable supervised or unsupervised visits for the child and the child's family, including with the child's siblings, unless such visits are determined to be unsafe or detrimental to, and not in the best interests of, the child;

(6) Shall order each of the child's birth parents to complete the medical information forms and release the medical information required under section 578-14.5, to the department. If the child's birth parents refuse to complete the forms or to release the information, the court may order the release of the information over the parents' objections;

(7) Shall determine whether each party understands that unless the family is willing and able to provide the child with a safe family home, even with the assistance of a service plan, within the reasonable period of time specified in the service plan, their respective parental and custodial duties and rights shall be subject to termination;

(8) Shall determine the child's date of entry into foster care as defined in this chapter;

(9) Shall set a periodic review hearing to be conducted no later than six months after the date of entry into foster care and a permanency hearing to be held no later than twelve months after the date of entry into foster care;

(10) Shall set a status conference, as the court deems appropriate, to be conducted no later than ninety days after the return hearing; and

(11) May order that:

(A) Any party participate in, complete, be liable for, and make every good faith effort to arrange payment for such services or treatment as are authorized by law and that are determined to be in the child's best interests;

(B) The child be examined by a physician, surgeon, psychiatrist, or psychologist; and

(C) The child receive treatment, including hospitalization or placement in other suitable facilities, as is determined to be in the child's best interests.

(f) If the court finds that the child's physical or psychological health or welfare has not been harmed or subjected to threatened harm by the acts or omissions of the child's family, the court shall enter an order to dismiss the petition and shall state the grounds for dismissal.

(g) Nothing in this section shall prevent the court from setting a termination of parental rights hearing at any time the court deems appropriate. [L 2010, c 135, pt of 1; am L 2011, c 51, 4]

 

 

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