Florida Court Discusses Requirements for Orders Granting Permanent Guardianship

While the Florida courts typically strive to maintain relationships between parents and their children, in some instances, they determine that it is in a child’s best interest to grant permanent guardianship rights to someone other than the child’s parent. While it is within the courts’ discretion to do so, they must set forth written orders adequately explaining their reasoning. If they do not, their orders might be subject to challenge, as illustrated in a recent Florida case. If you have questions about what measures you can take to protect your parental rights, it is prudent to speak to a Miami child custody attorney regarding your options.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the child was under the supervision of the Department of Children and Families. The trial court subsequently terminated the Department’s supervision and placed the child in a permanent guardianship. The child’s father appealed the trial court’s ruling, arguing that it was not supported by competent evidence and that the order failed to set forth specific factual findings.

Statutory Requirements for Orders Granting Permanent Guardianship

On appeal, the court agreed with the father in part but affirmed the order to the extent that it placed the child in permanent guardianship, as it found the decision was supported by competent evidence. The court explained that the Florida Statutes require that a written order placing a child in permanent guardianship must set forth the reasons or circumstances why a child’s parents are deemed unfit to care for the child and why reunification between the child and parents is not possible. In doing so, the trial court must either make separate findings of fact or refer to specific factual findings in its order adjudicating the child dependent.

The court explained that the order in question merely stated that it relied on circumstances from which the court based its prior finding that the child was dependent in its order of adjudication, which was inadequate in that it did not refer to any specific factual findings from the order of dependency.

Further, the court agreed with the father’s argument that the portion of the order that dealt with the frequency of his visitation was insufficient, as it did not specify the nature and frequency of the contact between the child and the parents, as dictated by Florida Statutes. As such, the court reversed the trial court order and remanded it to meet the statutory requirements, but noting that it did not need to reconsider the decision to place the child in permanent guardianship.

Confer with an Experienced Miami Attorney

Parents generally have the right to parent their children unless the courts determine that it is in the child’s best interest to grant another party guardianship rights. If you have questions about guardianship or child custody, it would benefit you to confer with an attorney promptly. The experienced Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can assess the facts of your case and develop a strategy designed to help you seek your desired outcome. Our office is located in Aventura, and we frequently aid people in custody matters in Miami. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.