What is an Evidentiary Hearing?
Prior to the Evidentiary Hearing, the court will hold a Settlement Conference. The goal of a Settlement Conference is to solve disagreements without going to trial. If an agreement cannot be reached at the Settlement Conference, the case will proceed to the Evidentiary Hearing. During the Evidentiary Hearing, Social Services will present evidence and witnesses in support of the allegations in the Petition for Hearing. You have the right to question the witnesses and the evidence. You may also present your own evidence and witnesses. Social Services must prove the allegations by a "preponderance of evidence". This means that it is more likely that the allegations are true than not true. At the end of the hearing, the judge decides whether abuse or neglect has occurred and if your child is in need of protection. The judge then proceeds to the dispositional portion of the hearing.