R.L. v. W.G., 147 So.3d 1054 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014)

The Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed an order denying the former foster parents’ motion to intervene in termination proceedings.

The Department petitioned to terminate the Mother’s parental rights. While Mother’s rights were still intact, Mother chose to have her cousin (W.G.) adopt her child. The court found W.G. to be qualified and ordered the child to be placed with her. The foster parents moved to intervene and set aside the change of placement.

The Fifth DCA found that because Mother’s parental rights were intact, her choice of placement with W.G. was exclusively her decision limited only by the trial court’s determination that the prospective placement was qualified and that the adoption is in the child’s interest. The Fifth DCA distinguishes this case from I.B. v. Department of Children and Families, 876 So. 2d 581 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004). The foster family in I.B ., which was granted standing, had a pending adoption petition, alleged an agreement with the Department to adoption, and the trial court had ordered a placement change without examining the child’s best interest.

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