Common Pleas Court Municipal Court
Mercer Probate Juvenile Court

Abused, Neglected and Dependent Dispositions

An abused child includes any child that shows evidence of any serious physical or emotional injury inflicted other than by accidental means or who is the victim of sexual activity. A neglected child is one who is abandoned or lacks parental care because of the faults, habits, and indifference of the parents or custodians. A dependent child lacks proper care or support through no fault of the parents or custodian. The Juvenile Court has the responsibility to hear such cases and make a finding or adjudication. The Court may make orders altering legal custody or redefining the parental rights and responsibilities to protect the child. These cases are very complex and require close cooperation with Mercer County Department of Job and Family Services through the Children Services Division, law enforcement, and other social agencies available in the county

The Juvenile Court believes that when a child's physical, mental, and emotional health are at stake and when the child's needs are not being met, that the child needs an advocate. In such cases as this, the Court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). Based on the complaint before it and by considering the best interest of the child, the Court may use a variety of options when dealing with abused, neglected, and dependent children to include the following:

  • Order Protective Supervision through Mercer County Job and Family Services
  • Remove child temporarily from home and grant custody to Children Services during which time the parties can work on a reunification plan
  • Give legal custody to a relative
  • Place child in long-term foster care when the parent(s) is not able to assume care
  • Award permanent custody to Children Services so that the children can be adopted