Section 39.806(1)(i) and Required Findings in Court Order: Case remanded to the trial court to make required findings that reunification would be a substantial risk to the child

L.J. v. Department of Children and Families, 220 So.3d 557 (2017)

The trial court entered a final judgment terminating father’s parental rights to the child pursuant to 39.806(1)(i) on the basis that he had rights to two other children terminated. The trial court’s order included findings as to each statutory factor, discussed the manifest best interests, and explained that termination was the least restrictive means of protecting the child from harm, but failed to include a finding that reunification posed a substantial risk of harm to the child.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s finding that the evidence warranted termination of Father’s parental rights but remand for the trial court to include findings concerning whether reunification poses a substantial risk of harm to the child.

Practice Tip: Court orders are subject to remand where statutorily required findings are missing, causing undue delay to permanency.

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