Florida Department of Children and Families v. N.H., 2015 WL 5132689 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

The Florida Department of Children and Families petitioned for a writ of certiorari seeking to quash an order relieving the father of complying with his case plan. The Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) granted the petition and quashed that portion of the order.

Father consented to a dependency adjudication of his child based on domestic violence with the child’s mother. Pursuant to his case plan, Father was required to obtain services and complete specific tasks. He did not complete his case plan. Over a year later, the trial court vacated the adjudication order based on Father’s alleged heart condition and a finding of duress. Following a rehearing on the matter, the trial court reinstated an adjudication of dependency as to Father but entered an order excusing Father from completing the case plan.

Florida Statute § 39.6013 permits amendment of a case plan by the court or by agreement of the parties only under certain circumstances. The Third DCA found that testimony of recurring domestic violence by the Father in the child’s presence supported the need for Father to have services and follow a case plan. Although a heart condition might excuse Father’s participation on a particular day, the Third DCA found no basis for Father being relieved of all of his case plan obligations.

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