D.A. v. Department of Children and Families, 132 So.3d 358 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014)

The mother appealed the trial court’s order terminating her parental rights (TPR). She argued that it was a violation of due process to allow the same judge who ordered the Department of Children and Families (department) to file the TPR petition to preside over the TPR trial and then grant that TPR.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) affirmed the trial court’s order terminating the mother’s parental rights holding there was no violation of the mother’s due process rights.  In their holding, the Fourth DCA cited, In the Interest of J.R.T., 427 So.2d 251, 252-53 (Fla. 5th DCA 1983)  which held “a court has the authority to order the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights; “To hold that [the Department] alone could initiate termination proceedings would be to permit the [Department] to restrict and frustrate the inherent and statutory authority of the court to protect the welfare of minor children.”