Parental Drug Use as a Basis for Dependency

M.S.v. Department of Children and Families, 2017 WL 456892 (Fla. 5th DCA)   Father appealed an adjudication order, which found his children dependent based on his recent drug-related arrests. No evidence was presented as to the circumstances of the arrests or how the arrests harmed the children. The Fifth DCA found evidence of drug use […]

Interpreting the S.M. Case – Least Restrictive Means

Guardian ad Litem Program v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 7497280 (Fla. 5th DCA) This is the first district court case applying the least restrictive means test since it was recently clarified by the Supreme Court of Florida. S.M. v. Fla. Dep’t of Children and Families, 202 So. 3d 769, 778 (Fla. 2016). […]

S.M. v. Department of Children and Families, 188 So.3d 982 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights to T.H. The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) affirmed termination. When T.H. was two years old, Father was found guilty by reason of insanity of homicide and involuntarily committed. He remained institutionalized almost continuously since then. T.H. was adjudicated dependent in 2011. Four years later, T.H. […]

Tluzek v. Tluzek, 2015 WL 7017418 (Fla. 5th DCA)

Former wife appealed a final judgment of dissolution. Former Wife argued that it was reversible error to order that their monthly adoption subsidy should be offset against Former Husband’s child support obligations. The Fifth District Court of Appeals (Fifth DCA) found that an adoption subsidy provided by the State of Florida to the parents of […]

Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program v. A.A., 2015 WL 4510417 (Fla. 5th DCA)

The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) appealed the trial court’s Final Judgment Denying Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights and Ordering a Permanent Guardianship Case Plan. The trial court found that DCF proved statutory grounds for termination as to Mother and Father by clear and convincing evidence […]

R.L. v. W.G., 147 So.3d 1054 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014)

The Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed an order denying the former foster parents’ motion to intervene in termination proceedings. The Department petitioned to terminate the Mother’s parental rights. While Mother’s rights were still intact, Mother chose to have her cousin (W.G.) adopt her child. The court found W.G. to be qualified and ordered the child […]

H.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 2014 WL 3805524 (Fla. 5th DCA)

The Mother appealed an order denying her motion to reopen the dependency case to modify the trial court’s order placing the children in permanent guardianship with their paternal grandparents. The Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed denial finding that the parent has the burden of proving that the children’s safety, well-being, and physical, mental and emotional […]

In re: The Adoption of K.A.G., 2014 WL 7331269 (Fla. 5th DCA)

Paternal grandmother and Father appeal the trial court’s judgment dismissing Grandmother’s petition to adopt K.A.G. Father was charged with killing his child’s mother and was incarcerated awaiting trial. The Department of Children and Families (department) began dependency proceedings, placed the child with his aunt and petitioned to terminate Father’s parental rights. Concurrently, Grandmother petitioned the […]

C.B. v. Department of Children and Families, 148 So.3d 833 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014)

Father appealed part of the trial court’s dispositional order requiring him to participate in anger management. The Department conceded error in that the evidence presented to the trial court failed to demonstrate a need for such counseling. Florida Rule of Juvenile Procedure 8.410(b)(4) provides that the case plan be “meaningful and designed to address the […]

A.J. v. Department of Children and Families, 111 So.3d 980 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013)

The father appealed the trial court’s dependency adjudication of his daughter. She was born prematurely and had significant health problems, which required intensive medical involvement. The Department of Children and Families (department) based their dependency petition on the parent’s neglect of the child’s extensive medical needs and her failure to thrive.  The parent had failed […]

Chew v. Roberts, 122 So.3d 493 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013)

After a child’s parental rights were terminated, the foster parents moved to intervene in the dependency proceeding in order to adopt the child. The child’s aunt and uncle also filed motions to adopt the child and moved the trial court to consolidate the actions. The foster parents opposed the consolidation because they did not received […]

Department of Children and Families v. T.W., 124 So.3d 411 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013)

The Department of Children and Families (department) appealed the trial court’s order reunifying the mother and her children based on unsworn statements made by the mother and the caseworker. The department argued that there was “no prior notice that reunification would be addressed, [the department] was not afforded an opportunity to present witnesses or otherwise […]

In re Adoption of D.P.P., 2014 WL 2109130 (Fla. 5th DCA)

The biological mother moved for relief from the final judgment of adoption, whereby her same-sex partner adopted her child. The trial court vacated the final judgment of adoption holding the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and the final adoption where the biological mother’s same-sex partner (partner) adoption of the biological mother’s child was void. The […]

H.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 2014 WL 3805524 (Fla. 5th DCA)

The mother appeals the final order entered by the trial court denying her motion to re-open her children’s dependency case in order to modify the trial court’s previously entered order placing children in permanent guardianship with their paternal grandparents. The Fifth District Court of Appeal  affirmed the trial court’s order because, contrary to the mother’s […]

J.H. v. Department of Children and Families, 2014 WL 3559381 (Fla. 5th DCA)

The Department of Children and Families appealed denial of its petition for termination of parental rights.  The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) affirmed the trial court’s decision but issued its opinion without prejudice, specifically granting the Department permission to refile for termination of parental rights if Father is sentenced to a significant prison […]

J.O. v. Department of Children and Families, 2014 WL 3534231 (Fla. 5th DCA)

Father appealed the trial court’s decision finding his son dependent.  Although the Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) affirmed most of the dependency order, the Fifth DCA reversed the portion of the decision that prohibited all contact between Father and son until Father’s release from incarceration.  All contact, including telephonic, was prohibited by the […]

In the Interest of I.B., 2014 WL 3375933 (Fla. 5th DCA)

The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) withdrew its previous opinion dated May 9, 2014 following review of a motion for rehearing by the adoption intermediary for the prospective adoptive parents (foster parents).  The prospective adoptive parents appealed the trial court’s order striking Mother’s adoption consent.   The Fifth DCA reversed the decision, finding insufficient […]

M.G. v. Department of Children and Families, 2014 WL 2968818 (Fla. 5th DCA)

Mother appealed the order of disposition adjudicating her children dependent and relinquishing the court’s jurisdiction.  The Fifth District Court of Appeal agreed with Mother and found that the trial court committed reversible error in failing to hold a disposition hearing.  The matter was remanded for a disposition hearing pursuant to Fla. Statute § 39.521. Read […]