S.S. v. Department of Children and Families, 75 So. 3d 818 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011)

The mother appealed the trial court’s order terminating her parental rights to her children – three oldest children and one child born after the dependency proceedings began. One of the arguments made by the mother was that the Department of Children and Families (department) could not include the phrase “no new law violations” in her case plan. She argued that the “no new law violations” was not a proper basis for terminating her parental rights. She cited the “Second District’s opinion in, In the Interest of C.N., 51 So.3d 1224 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011). That case held that [the department] may not include a requirement of no new law violations as a case plan task, and that violation of this requirement, standing alone, is not a proper basis to terminate parental rights.”

The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) agreed that the “no new law violation” requirement could not stand alone as a proper basis to terminate the mother’s parental rights but held that the department could include a “no new law violation” if “it is related to correcting a parent’s behavior or to acts resulting in risk to the child.” §§ 39.6011, 39.6012, and Fla. Stat. (2011).

The Fifth DCA upheld the trial court’s order terminating the mother’s parental rights.

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