The WA Supreme Court has issued a proclamation on handling dependency and termination cases during this state of emergency. The full order is available here, and the major points are
- Shelter care hearings are emergency matters, and a court may decide that any other hearing is also an emergency matter.
- Nothing has altered the rights to an attorney. Juvenile courts shall record their decisions on whether to appoint an attorney, and in contested remote hearings, parents and children must have the opportunity to speak confidentially to attorneys before cross examination.
- No default orders are to be entered that require personal service or appearance
- Video visitations will not be sufficient for all children and families and a parent or child may motion for in-person visits, which the courts will rule on case by case.
- The pandemic counts as exceptional reasons for delay of parents receiving or pursuing service plans, or for continuation of any fact-finding hearings.