R.M. v. State, Dept. of Children and Families, 2016 WL 6476935 (Fla. 4th DCA)

Mother and Father appealed an order adjudicating their children dependent based on neglect, abuse and imminent risk of neglect and/or abuse. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) affirmed adjudication based on neglect but reversed as to all other findings.

The Fourth DCA found substantial evidence was presented as to an ongoing rat infestation that caused the children’s physical health to be in danger of significant impairment to support an adjudication of dependency based on neglect. There was no evidence however, that the parents willfully endangered the children, which is needed for a finding of abuse.

The Fourth DCA found no evidence that the children were at imminent risk of neglect of abuse. Although the Fourth DCA noted the children were in the care of a negligent and potentially abusive caregiver at the time of removal, there was no evidence presented that the parents planned to utilize that caregiver in the future. There was also no evidence that the conditions of the home remained dangerous at the time of the dependency hearing.

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