Trial Court Order Remanded for Additional Findings

L.J. a/k/a/ M.L. v. Department of Children and Families, 2017 WL 2605106 (Fla 5th DCA) The trial court entered a final judgment terminating Father’s parental rights to his child, A.J., on the basis that father had rights to two other children terminated. The trial court’s order included findings as to each statutory factor under section […]

Modification of Visitation Order: Requires Proper Notice and a Proof of a Substantial Change in Material Circumstances and that Modification is Required to Protect the Child’s Best Interests

Florida Department of Children and Families, v. P.I., the Mother, and M.H., the Father, 2017 WL 2265372 (Fla. 3d DCA) At the shelter hearing, the court ordered no contact with the parents based on explicit findings of “egregious physical abuse” by the mother and “failure to protect” by the father. The children were placed in […]

Admission of Evidence: No Abuse of Discretion in Denying Untimely Request for Expert Witness Testimony

K.A. v. Department of Children and Families, 2017WL1494002 (Fla. 3d DCA) The mother appealed from the trial court’s order terminating her parental rights. She argued the court erred in denying her right to present expert testimony regarding her psychological issues and returning children to the father, despite alleged domestic violence incidents. The Third DCA affirmed. […]

Statute of Limitations For Negligence Claims: Appointment of GAL in Dependency Case Should Not Extinguish Children’s Causes of Action

D.H. by and through R.H. v. Adept Community Services, Inc., 2017 WL 1277741 (Fla. 2d DCA) The children were born to a developmentally disabled mother. The mother received in-home support under a Medicaid program. The services were intended to help her live on her own and care for the children. The services failed to meet […]

ICPC: Juvenile Court Not Authorized to Relinquish Jurisdiction over Children Prior to Complying with ICPC Home Study Requirement

State Department of Children and Families v. M.A., 215 So.3d 1276 (2017) The children were adjudicated dependent and placed with the maternal grandmother. The father was not a party to the dependency action. In seeking to obtain custody of his children and relocate them to his home in Indiana, the father requested a home study […]

Paternity: Biological Father of Child Born to Intact Marriage Has Extremely Limited Rights and a “Casual Interest in Fatherhood” Found Insufficient To Trigger Constitutional Protection

M.L. v. Department of Children and Families, 2017WL1718807 (Fla. 4th DCA) The putative father filed a motion to intervene in a TPR proceeding where child was born into an existing marriage. Although the putative father was named on the child’s birth certificate and he was present at the shelter hearing, he waited 18 months to […]

Procedures for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims

This Supreme Court decision establishes new procedures for ineffective assistance of counsel claims for termination of parental rights proceedings. In Re: Amendments to Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure and Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.146, 2017 WL 1090564 (Fla.) In 2015, the Supreme Court established interim procedures for bringing ineffective assistance of counsel claims following […]

Case Plan Compliance

J.S. v. Department of Children and Families, 2017 WL 902184 (Fla. 5th DCA)  Mother appealed termination of her parental rights based solely upon her failure to follow a case plan.  The children were originally removed from Mother due to domestic violence.  Four months before the termination of parental rights trial, random drug tests and substance […]

Statutory Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

If a trial court’s ruling on one of the statutory grounds for termination of parental rights is supported by clear and convincing evidence, the court’s order terminating parental rights is affirmable.  D.H. v. Department of Children and Families, 2017 WL 728063 (Fla. 5th DCA) Mother appealed termination of her parental rights.  The Fifth District Court […]

Statute of Limitations for Negligence Claims

D.H. by and through R.H. v. Adept Community Services, Inc., 2017 WL 1277741 (Fla. 2nd DCA) The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) affirmed summary judgment in a negligence case filed by grandparents on behalf of their previously dependent children holding the trial court correctly found the case was initiated outside the statute of […]

Evidence – Supreme Court Declined to Adopt the Daubert Amendment

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, 2017 WL 6337700 (Fla.) The Supreme Court of Florida declined to adopt several legislative amendments, including an amendment (Daubert Amendment) replacing the Frye standard for admitting expert opinion evidence with the Daubert standard. The Daubert Amendment amended Florida Statutes § 90.702 and 90.704 (2012) and changed the […]

Parental Drug Use as a Basis for Dependency

M.S.v. Department of Children and Families, 2017 WL 456892 (Fla. 5th DCA)   Father appealed an adjudication order, which found his children dependent based on his recent drug-related arrests. No evidence was presented as to the circumstances of the arrests or how the arrests harmed the children. The Fifth DCA found evidence of drug use […]

Immigration – Determination of Dependency

M.P.L. v. Department of Children and Families, 2017 WL 192024 (Fla. 4th DCA) Establishing dependency based on being a child with “no parent or legal custodians capable of providing supervision and care.” § 39.01(15)(e), Fla. Stat. (2015) Judge Forst’s dissent noted the textual discrepancy between Florida Statute § 39.01(15) (e), which limits a child’s caregiver to “parents […]

Witness Testimony – Right to Confront Witness

S.D. v. Department of Children and Families, 2017 WL 52636 (Fla. 3rd DCA) Dependency proceedings are civil in nature. The constitutional right to confront witnesses does not apply. Father appealed termination of his parental rights based on his alleged lack of consent to a witness testifying via Skype, the lack of a notary to administer […]

Interpreting the S.M. Case – Least Restrictive Means

Guardian ad Litem Program v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 7497280 (Fla. 5th DCA) This is the first district court case applying the least restrictive means test since it was recently clarified by the Supreme Court of Florida. S.M. v. Fla. Dep’t of Children and Families, 202 So. 3d 769, 778 (Fla. 2016). […]

M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 6612173 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

This case was previously brought before the Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) and the court reversed termination of the Mother’s rights and directed the court to determine whether the evidence supported adjudication of dependency rather than termination. M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 186 So. 3d 74 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016). On remand, without hearing any […]

In re J.H., 2016 WL 6777133 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

The Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL) appealed an order dismissing a dependency petition for two siblings while adjudicating the third sibling. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) reversed dismissal of the two petitions finding the trial court failed to recognize the nexus between the severe abuse of Le.H. and the substantial risk of […]

In re N.L., 210 So. 3d 1288 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016)

Father appealed an order adjudicating his child dependent. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed. The trial court found the child to be dependent as to Father solely based on Father’s failure to comply with a case plan for older children previously found dependent. No evidence was presented that the child was at “substantial risk of imminent abuse,abandonment […]

In re D.O., 210 So.3d 1242 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016)

Father appealed the trial court’s order terminating supervision and jurisdiction over his child.  The Department of Children and Families (Department) and the Guardian ad Litem conceded error, specifically that Father was not given notice that the Department’s motion to terminate protective supervision would be heard at a previously scheduled review hearing. Three days before the scheduled […]

S.M. v. Department of Children and Families, 188 So.3d 982 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights to T.H. The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) affirmed termination. When T.H. was two years old, Father was found guilty by reason of insanity of homicide and involuntarily committed. He remained institutionalized almost continuously since then. T.H. was adjudicated dependent in 2011. Four years later, T.H. […]

B.B.S. v. Rodriguez-Murguia, 2016 WL 2744994 (Fla. 4th DCA)

This case involves a child support matter and not a dependency matter but the issue in question could pertain to dependency matters. The appellants (the Children) appealed a trial court order dismissing their cause of action to determine maternity.   The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The Children’s […]

M.D. v. State, 187 So.3d 1275 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights which was based on abandonment. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) affirmed termination. Father was incarcerated at the time of the termination trial and had been incarcerated for the two years prior to the trial. Father testified at trial that the last time he saw his […]

In re Le.H., 2016 WL 3001283 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Both the parents and the Guardian ad litem Program filed petitions for a writ of certiorari to review an order sheltering one child but denying to shelter his siblings. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA), denied the parents’ petition but granted the GAL’s petition and quashed the portion of the order denying to […]

R.J. v. Florida Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 1039178 (Fla. 4th DCA)

R.J., the child at issue, appealed the trial court’s order granting his petition for dependency but denying placement in licensed care. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) reversed and remanded. R.J. filed a petition for dependency after his parents refused to allow him to return home following discharge from a residential psychiatric center. […]

Guardian ad Litem Program v. M.H., 184 So.3d 1253 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016)

The Guardian ad Litem program appealed denial of termination of parental rights. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The specific question at issue before the Fourth DCA was whether proof of a guilty plea or conviction in a criminal proceeding was required for termination of parental rights […]

R.W. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 1239878 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights. The Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) affirmed termination. The Third DCA found merit in only one of the issues mother raised on appeal, her claim that the trial court’s participation in the questioning of witnesses at the adjudication hearing constituted an abandonment of neutrality and impartiality. […]

M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 717694 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights under § 39.806(1)(f). The Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) reversed termination. The underlying petition for termination of Mother’s rights alleged that Mother took E.C. to the hospital with “second degree, caustic, liquid burns” on his back, buttocks, right shoulder and right side of his body. Mother […]

Department of Children and Families v. Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, 2016 WL 869317 (Fla. 1st DCA)

The Department of Children and Families sought certiorari review of a trial court order limiting the Department’s consideration of prospective adoptive homes to one particular family for a sibling group of five children. The First District Court of Appeal (First DCA) agreed that the order violated the separation of powers doctrine and granted certiorari. At […]

Department of Children and Families v. S.A.E., 184 So.3rd 615 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016)

The Department of Children and Families appealed an order adjudicating A.A.A.-E . dependent, asserting the trial court misapplied § 39.01(15)(a). The First District Court of Appeal (First DCA) reversed the dependency adjudication. Mother filed a petition for dependency regarding her son, A.A.A.-E., based on abandonment by Father 12 years prior in Honduras. Mother moved to […]

In re S.A.R.D., 182 So.3d 897 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2016)

S.A.R.D. appealed dismissal of his private petition for dependency. The Third District Court of Appeals (Third DCA) affirmed, finding the record supported the trial court’s finding that S.A.R.D. was not abandoned, abused or neglected by his mother. S.A.R.D. asserted in his petition that he was born in Honduras. He lived primarily with his mother and […]

In re E.P.N., 180 So.3d 249 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2015)

Although the majority affirmed summary denial of E.P.N.’s appeal, a dissent was filed by Justice Salter. Salter noted factual differences in E.P.N.’s case that he believed established a prima facie basis for her claims and was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on her petition. E.P.N. was released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to her […]

In re B.R.C.M., 2015 WL 9584743 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

B.R.C.M. appealed a summary dismissal of his Petition for Dependency. The Third District Court of Appeals (Third DCA) affirmed and Judge Salter filed a lengthy dissent. B.R.C.M. was born in Guatemala, abandoned by his father at birth and abandoned by his mother when he was four years old. He was raised by his grandmother until […]

N.B. v. Department of Children and Families, 41 Fla. L. Weekly D168 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2016)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights, asserting that § 39.806(1)(l) is unconstitutional. The Third District Court of Appeals (Third DCA) found the Statute to be constitutional and affirmed termination. Florida Statue § 39.806(1)(l) permits filing a TPR petition when the child or another child of the parent(s) have been placed in out of home […]

In re S.M., 2016 WL 275273 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Father appealed a final judgment terminating his parental rights and an order denying his motion to set aside his implied consent to termination based on his failure to appear at the hearing. Father asserted that he provided evidence of excusable neglect for his failure to appear. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) reversed […]

In re B.F., 2016 WL 166669 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights. Although the Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) affirmed, the Second DCA issued an opinion to express its concern with the elimination of the nexus requirement in amended  § 39.806(1)(f). The Second DCA noted concern regarding the constitutionality of the amendment, specifically that the amendment might not […]

In re E.D., 2015 WL 9487592 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) affirmed but was “compelled to write to remind the trial court about the strict time frames in cases involving the termination of parental rights.” The trial court did not issue its final judgment until eight months after the termination hearing. […]

In re A.W., 2015 WL 9258506 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights to her daughters, S.W. and A.W. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) reversed and remanded, finding that the trial court erroneously applied a statutory amendment retroactively in its findings. N.W. lived with her long-term girlfriend T.H., T.H.’s daughter T.K.H, and N.W.’s daughters. N.W. and T.H. had […]