Postdisposition Change of Custody: Order effectively granting reunification quashed where dependency court failed to apply proper statutory provisions, misconstrued the evidence and findings were not supported by competent substantial evidence.

In the Interest of I.N., a child. E.N., Petitioner, v…., — So.3d —- (2017) The Second DCA reversed a trial court’s order which “effectively reunified” a child with a father who is alleged to have sexually abused the child. The DCA found that the trial court departed from the essential requirements of law by failing […]

Admission of Evidence: No Abuse of Discretion in Denying Untimely Request for Expert Witness Testimony

K.A. v. Department of Children and Families, 2017WL1494002 (Fla. 3d DCA) The mother appealed from the trial court’s order terminating her parental rights. She argued the court erred in denying her right to present expert testimony regarding her psychological issues and returning children to the father, despite alleged domestic violence incidents. The Third DCA affirmed. […]

Evidence – Supreme Court Declined to Adopt the Daubert Amendment

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, 2017 WL 6337700 (Fla.) The Supreme Court of Florida declined to adopt several legislative amendments, including an amendment (Daubert Amendment) replacing the Frye standard for admitting expert opinion evidence with the Daubert standard. The Daubert Amendment amended Florida Statutes § 90.702 and 90.704 (2012) and changed the […]

Guardian ad Litem Program v. M.H., 184 So.3d 1253 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016)

The Guardian ad Litem program appealed denial of termination of parental rights. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The specific question at issue before the Fourth DCA was whether proof of a guilty plea or conviction in a criminal proceeding was required for termination of parental rights […]

R.W. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 1239878 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights. The Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) affirmed termination. The Third DCA found merit in only one of the issues mother raised on appeal, her claim that the trial court’s participation in the questioning of witnesses at the adjudication hearing constituted an abandonment of neutrality and impartiality. […]

J.P. v. Florida Department of Children and Families, 2015 WL 167394 (Fla. 1st DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights as to her daughter, T.P. The First District Court of Appeal (First DCA) affirmed the TPR utilizing the “highly deferential” standard of review. T.P. came to the attention of the department following two hospitalizations for nephrotic syndrome and allegations of medical neglect. Mother was provided training on her […]

E.R. v. Department of Children and Families, 143 So. 3rd 1131 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014)

The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) reversed the trial court’s order adjudicating Mother and Father’s children dependent. Specifically, the Fourth DCA (in E.R.) held that the trial court’s finding that Mother “placed both the minor children at imminent risk of neglect and harm” was not supported by “competent, substantial evidence.” The underlying case was […]

In re A.W.J., 143 So. 3d 1109 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2014)

Both Mother and Father separately appealed an order adjudicating their child dependent based on physical abuse. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) reversed the adjudication order. Father testified that he placed his 6 month old child in a Bumbo chair and went in the kitchen. Mother was not at home. While Father was […]