Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Puerto Rico
Schedule of Hearings
Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, §§ 447j; 447k; 447s
The court shall schedule a follow-up hearing within 6 months of the date of having awarded temporary custody of the minor. At the hearing, the judge shall determine whether the family, father, mother, or person in charge of the minor is expending reasonable efforts as required under this chapter to achieve family reunification. If such is the case, the judge shall provide the family, father, mother, or person in charge of the minor an additional 3 months to continue receiving services based on the permanent placement plan to attempt family reunification. However, if at the hearing the Department of the Family proves to the judge that the family, father, mother, or person in charge of the minor will not comply or does not wish to carry on with the permanent placement plan, the judge shall convert the follow-up hearing into a final ruling hearing, pursuant to § 447k of this title.
The court must hold a final ruling hearing within 12 months after having granted temporary custody of the child. In the cases of children under the responsibility of the department with a permanency plan established prior to the approval of this act, the final disposition hearing of the permanency plan shall be held within 6 months after the approval thereof.
In those cases in which the court determines that no reasonable efforts shall be made, a permanent placement hearing shall be held for the child within 15 days following the decision.
Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings
Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, §§ 447n; 447o; 447p
In any proceeding under this chapter, the child shall have the right to be heard.
The grandparents of a child may request to be heard in any proceeding for the protection of minors. The court shall grant legitimacy to intervene when it determines that the grandparents maintain a relationship with the minor or have made sufficient efforts to establish one, and that allowing them to intervene is consonant with the purpose of this subchapter to pursue the best interests of the child.
Siblings of legal age, not dependent on their parents, may request to be heard in any proceeding for the protection of minors. The court shall grant legitimacy to intervene when it determines that the siblings maintain a relationship with the child or have made sufficient efforts to establish one, and that allowing them to intervene is consonant with the purpose of this subchapter to pursue the best interests of the child.
Any person in charge of a foster home who has had the child in his or her care for more than 6 months, and any adopting party who has executed a placement agreement, may be heard, at the discretion of the court, in any proceeding for the protection of a child who lives or has lived in their home so that they may contribute evidence of the physical, emotional, mental, or sexual state of the child while in their care, but they shall not be deemed a party to the case.
Determinations Made at Hearings
Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 447l
In any judicial proceeding on abuse and/or neglect initiated under this chapter, the court may order any of the following remedies:
- To provide support services, keeping the child at home under the protective supervision of the department and under whatever conditions the court deems convenient, for no longer than 6 months, which may be extended for just cause for up to a maximum of 1 year
- To remove the child from the custody of the father, mother, or the person responsible for the child, for no longer than 6 months, which may be extended for just cause for up to a maximum of 1 year
- To award the physical custody of the child, consistent with his or her best interests, to the person or institution that the court deems convenient, provided the person or institution is licensed or certified by the department
- To deprive both parents of patria potestas
- Any other determination needed for the protection of the best interests of the child
When the child is removed from the custody of the parents, temporary custody may be awarded to any of the following:
- A member of the child's family
- The department, in which case physical custody may be awarded to a person designated by the department
Foster parents or operators of establishments in which the child is to be placed shall receive medical and educational information at the time of placement. The information shall be revised and updated periodically.
Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 447k
At the final ruling hearing, the court shall consider a report submitted by the department that shows whether the conditions of risk that were present at the time of the child's removal continue to pose a risk to the well-being; health; or physical, mental, emotional, or sexual integrity of the minor. Based on the content of the report and/or other available evidence, the court may do any of the following:
- Find that the child should be returned to his or her home
- Place the child with a person responsible for him or her or in another home
- Grant custody of the child to the department
- Order that a proceeding may be initiated for termination of patria potestas