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 or legal custodians,” and Florida Statute § 39.01(15)(g), which lists “parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative.” The dissent found that the trial court’s likening of “legal custodian” to “caregiver” when addressing subsection (15)(e) was a mistake and a violation of the separation of powers. Judge Forst noted had the legislature intended to include caregivers or adult relatives in subsection (15)(e), the legislature would have done so as it did in subsection (15)(g).

Judge Forst believed M.P.L. met her burden of establishing dependency pursuant to Florida Statute § 39.01(15)(e) as being a child with “no parent or legal custodians capable of providing supervision or care.” M.P.L. left an abusive father in Guatemala and was living with a sister in Florida. The sister was not a legal custodian pursuant to subsection (15)(e).

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