Chew v. Roberts, 122 So.3d 493 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013)

After a child’s parental rights were terminated, the foster parents moved to intervene in the dependency proceeding in order to adopt the child. The child’s aunt and uncle also filed motions to adopt the child and moved the trial court to consolidate the actions. The foster parents opposed the consolidation because they did not received proper notice. The trial court granted the aunt and uncle’s motion to consolidate and scheduled a hearing to modify the child’s placement. The foster parents sought certiorari review of the order consolidating the adoption case and ordering the evidentiary hearing brought by the aunt and uncle arguing they were denied due process, as they were not properly noticed.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) agreed with the foster parents, holding the foster parents were denied due process when the trial court considered and ruled upon the aunt and uncle’s motion to consolidate. The Fifth DCA, also noted that the trial court’s decision to “consolidate had potentially significant legal implications beyond merely having two separate actions heard together. The trial court’s decision on the motion to consolidate implicitly granted the [aunt and uncle] status as “parties” rather than as “participants” in the dependency case-a legal status to which they may well not be entitled.”

The Fifth DCA granted the foster parent’s petition for writ of certiorari and quashed the order granting the hearing to modify placement of the child.

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