Florida family law recognizes that at times parents may become unable to provide for the care of their child (or children), and that placing the child with a family member may be in the child’s best interest. Florida Statute 751.03 allows for an extended family member to petition the court for temporary custody of minor child.
If both of the parents consent to the family member’s taking temporary custody, the Court will grant the petition, as long as it finds that it is in the best interest of the child. However, if either of the parents does not consent, then it must be shown – and the Court must find – “by clear and convincing evidence” that the parent or parents are unfit to provide for the care of the child. The Court determines that parents are unfit if they have abused, abandoned or neglected the child.
If the Petition for Temporary Custody of a Minor Child by an Extended Family Member is granted by the court, the family member will be allowed to have physical custody of the child. Additionally, the family member will be able to do all things necessary for the care of the child, including selecting schools and doctors, enrolling the child in school, obtaining medical or educational records, and consenting to medical care for the child.
The parents may petition the court to modify or terminate the temporary custody at any time but all parties must consent or the Court must first determine that the parents are now fit to care for the child for the temporary custody to be terminated. Another option is that if the Court finds that a modification of the temporary custody is in the best interest of the child or if all parties consent to a modification, then the temporary custody can be modified. For example, parental visitation can be added or removed from the original arrangement.
If you have questions regarding temporary custody of a minor child by a family member, please contact the attorneys at Fletcher & Phillips at (904) 353-7733.