R.W. v. Department of Children and Families, 147 So.3d 631 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2014)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights. The Department of Children and Families (department) confessed error and the Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) reversed the termination of parental rights.

Although the trial court’s written final judgment found abandonment as the basis for terminating Father’s parental rights, the trial court orally pronounced, “I won’t find abandonment.” Citing B.C. v. department of Children and Families , 864 So. 2d 486 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004), the Third DCA held that when there is a conflict between the written order and oral pronouncement, the oral pronouncement is controlling.

The trial court terminated Father’s rights finding that his continued involvement in the parent child relationship threatened the safety and well-being of the child. However, this statutory basis was not included in the Department’s petition.

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