M.P. v. Department of Children and Families, 159 So.3d 341 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015)

The Father appealed an Order of Adjudication of Dependency and Order of Disposition and Case Plan Approval. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) affirmed adjudication but reversed and remanded as to unsupported findings in the orders and the instruction for the Father to submit to random drug testing.

The dependency petition as to Father alleged that he had minimal contact with the children and failed to protect them from Mother’s drug use and Mother’s abusive paramour. The only mention of drug use with regard to Father was an allegation that he had a criminal history involving drug possession. No evidence was presented at trial as to Father’s alleged criminal history of drug possession, that Father abused drugs, or that Father’s failure to protect the children from Mother’s drug use and neglect was related to any substance use by Father.

Although the Fourth DCA pointed out that the allegation of a criminal history of drug possession placed the question of Father’s substance abuse in controversy, the Fourth DCA did not find there was a showing of good cause for Father to submit to a substance abuse evaluation pursuant to Florida Statute s. 39.407. The trial court also failed to show that a substance abuse evaluation would meaningfully address the facts and circumstances which resulted in adjudication as to Father, as required by Florida Statute s.  39.603(1)(f).

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