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Chisolm v. State, 58 So.3d 304 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). In proceeding in which father was charged with third-degree felony child abuse, father’s repeated striking of seven-year-old son’s arms and back with belt that contained metal object was not similar to a typical spanking or other acceptable form of corporal punishment and father failed to establish affirmative defense of reasonable corporal punishment.


Granados v. State, 2016 WL 4379036 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Defendant appealed conviction for sexual battery of daughter when she was between seven and eleven years old. Nurse practitioner’s testimony about child victim’s statements were admissible under statute governing admission of out-of-court statement made by child victim describing acts of sexual abuse. Victim testified and was subject to cross-examination, and trial court made explicit findings noting victim’s details about abuse were age-appropriate, she responded to open-ended questions about abuse, and she could distinguish truth from lie.

Platt v. State, 2016 WL 5404193 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). In prosecution for sexual battery of child while in position of familial or custodial authority, trial court’s failure to make findings about reliability of child victim’s hearsay statement before admitting it was abuse of discretion. When prosecution sought to introduce video of victim’s statement to police, trial court reviewed it and ruled it was admissible, adding only that questions by detective, and child’s responses, were sufficient for admission of statement under child hearsay rule.






Goodman v. Goodman, 126 So.3d 310 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). In case where father adopted his adult girlfriend, judgment was void due to lack of notice to required parties including the father’s other children and their guardian ad litem. Because children were directly affected by the adoption when their trust accounts were reduced from one-half to one-third by the adoption, they were required parties.


Dep’t of Children & Fam. v. Statewide Guardian ad Litem Prog., 2016 WL 869317 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Trial court improperly exceeded its jurisdiction by limiting child welfare agency’s consideration of prospective adoptive homes for sibling group of five minor children to particular family. Court could have compelled agency to quickly select adoptive family, but court lacked authority to make, in effect, selection of adoptive home.





Winters v. Brown, 51 So.3d 656 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Award of power to make health care decisions to father over mother where she refused to allow child to be immunized due to her religious beliefs was supported by evidence; multiple experts testified about benefits and risks of immunization, and court could have reasonably found that failing to immunize child was harmful based on the testimony.



C.R. v. State, 60 So. 3d 478 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Trial court erred in placing child in high-risk facility over agency’s recommendation for a medium-risk placement; court must detail reasons for departing from the agency’s recommendations under state law to ensure placement is in the least-restrictive environment.


In re C.N., 51 So. 3d 1224 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Father’s case plan that required that he have no further law violations was not a valid basis to terminate his parental rights as it impermissibly expanded enumerated list of crimes that constituted termination grounds and conflicted with rule against termination based primarily on incarceration.


Mediate v. State, 108 So.3d 703 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Where trial court sentenced juvenile to 130 years imprisonment, sentence did not violate cruel and unusual punishment clause because Graham v. Florida was limited to life sentences. As to juvenile’s argument that the sentence was the functional equivalent of a life sentence because, depending on reductions via incentives and merit, he might be incarcerated for his lifetime, Graham did not provide guidance for how courts should estimate life expectancy.

T.J.J. v. State, 121 So.3d 635 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court’s probation condition was overly broad and unrelated to the burglary that led to probation. Condition prohibited youth from having contact with any individual on probation, gang members, or persons prohibited by his parents or probation officer outside of school and required that he get permission from his probation officer. Youth could arguably violate condition by casually speaking to a stranger who happened to be on probation.


L.A.H. v. State, 2016 WL 4375437 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). In juvenile delinquency case, prosecution failed to prove essential element of intent to commit offense at time of entry, as required for offense of burglary of conveyance. Prosecution presented no evidence about how or when juvenile entered car or his intent when he entered. Proof was based solely on fingerprints found on documents in glove compartment, and prosecution presented no evidence entry was stealthy.


J.X. v. State, 125 So.3d 364 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court properly concluded that youth waived his Miranda right to have counsel present during interrogation. After youth invoked his right to an attorney at police station and officer got up to leave and said he would talk to the youth’s brother, the youth called for the officer to come back and admitted to committing burglaries. Youth’s waiver of his right was knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently made since he had properly had his rights explained and officer’s statement that he would speak to brother was not unduly coercive. 



A.T. v. State, 93 So.3d 1159 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Court improperly found juvenile unlawfully resisted a police officer. Where officer approached three youth and smelled marijuana in the general vicinity, that alone did not create reasonable suspicion needed to detain youth when he refused to provide identification and walked away.

Hopkins v. State, 105 So.3d 470 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Youth was not improperly convicted under statute that enhanced battery from a misdemeanor to a felony when battery occured in a juvenile detention center. A juvenile detention center was a ‘detention facility’ under the plain meaning of the statute permitting enhancement of the crime and the legislature could have exempted certain facilities as it had done with other statutes. 

I.M. v. State, 95 So. 3d 918 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Ostruction charge stemming from youth cursing at an officer who intervened in group of youth who were engaging in horseplay. Where officer repeatedly asked youth to leave, youth’s words alone did not constitute offense. Obstruction generally requires more than verbal conduct.

S.S. v. State, 154 So. 3d 1217 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2015). Evidence that juvenile engaged in screaming and cursing across street was insufficient to provide officer with reasonable suspicion that juvenile had committed offense of disorderly conduct. Juvenile could not therefore be convicted of crime of resisting without violence for refusing to comply with officer’s request to remain seated during investigation.



B.L.R. v. State, 74 So. 3d 173 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). The trial court had a legally sufficient basis to deviate from the disposition recommended by the Department of Juvenile Justice when it placed a juvenile in a maximum-risk facility. The alternate, less-restrictive options did not protect the public from the juvenile, as he continued to commit new more serious offenses after his release from a high-risk facility.


D.G. v. State, 2015 WL 1312646 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Juvenile was adjudicated delinquent for two counts of sexual battery. At disposition, court ruled against juvenile justice department’s recommendation to withhold adjudication and place defendant on probation by committing juvenile to high-risk sex offender program, despite lack of a comprehensive evaluation. Court must provide legally sufficient foundation for disregarding professional assessment and predisposition report.


D.W.G v. State, 53 So. 3d 1235 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Trial court improperly placed adjudicated delinquent in a group setting over department’s recommendation of probation because it failed to engage in restrictive environment analysis required by statute and case law.

H.D. v. Shore, 53 So. 3d 1235 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Circuit court erred in placing youth in secure detention upon probation revocation after he left his house arrest at his mother’s, went to his father’s house, and failed to go to school. Youth did not meet statutory criteria via the risk assessment instrument and the court found no reason to depart from those criteria by clear and convincing evidence.



C.W. v. State, 93 So. 3d 1131 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court should have advised youth of her right to counsel and ensured she knowingly waived that right. Youth stated at arraignment that she had obtained an attorney, but the attorney did not appear at trial because she had failed to follow through with retaining him.


L.S. v. State, 120 So. 3d 55 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Juvenile’s conviction for possessing firearm did not violate Second Amendment. Prohibition on juvenile possession other than for marksmanship practice, competition, or hunting was a reasonable restriction on individual liberty aimed at protecting youth and the community. Case law allows greater restrictions on minors.



In re D.S., 2012 WL 1192030 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Trial court erred in denying youth’s motion to suppress evidence of marijuana because police lacked reasonable suspicion that he was armed or dangerous when they searched him. Youth was detained while officers were investigating a call, but youth was not under arrest. Officer fully searched youth without first patting him down and she had not observed any bulges that might have been weapons.



A.J. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 111 So.3d 980 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court properly adjudicated child dependent where she had severe medical needs beginning at birth that led to father depleting his savings and losing his job. Though father was not at fault, dependency jurisdiction was not meant to punish the parents but to provide them assistance caring for this child.


In re C.Z., 106 So.3d 976 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Circuit court’s adjudication order was improper where it merely recited the allegations in the agency’s petition. Though the transcript showed support for the judge’s finding of dependency, remand was required to produce an order with specific findings of fact which are required by statute and court rule and serve as an important guide for the parties in planning remedial action.


Dep’t of Children & Families v. Y.C., 82 So.3d 1139 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court exceeded its jurisdiction in ordering services for a mother after she filed a dependency petition against herself and then admitted allegations despite fact that the agency declined to prosecute the case. Though parents may admit to abuse, this nonetheless contemplates adverse parties coming to an agreement and the trial judge can not validly adjudicate dependency without taking evidence and considering the parties’ positions.


M.P. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 159 So. 3d 341 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2015). Mother consented to adjudication of dependency of four children but father appealed order and contested finding that random drug testing was indicated as part of his case plan. Although there was evidence that father failed to protect children from mother’s drug use and neglect, evidence was insufficient to show dependency resulted from substance abuse by father. His case plan could not merely mirror mother’s case plan without considering his individual circumstances.


Dep’t of Revenue ex rel. Shirer v. Shirer, 2016 WL 4375433 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Department of Revenue appealed after court denied petition for orders of child support and retroactive child support against father whose children were adjudicated dependent and removed from parents’ custody. At hearing on petition, trial court declined to order father to pay child support either currently or retroactively because it had previously determined father lacked “ordinary capacity” to pay child support because of his mental disability. Trial court failed to make any findings regarding father’s current ability to maintain employment and earn income.




In re T.J., 59 So. 3d 1187 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). In dependency action, diligent search was insufficient to show child’s father was unable to care for her; agency’s affidavit failed to list discussions with several known relatives about possible whereabouts of father and little investigation was conducted in Haiti despite information that father might be there.


F.O. v. Dep’t of Children & Families,
94 So.3d 709 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court was not acting outside its authority in ordering father to complete several tasks despite only finding mother abused child. Adjudicating a child dependent gave the court jurisdiction to order father to engage in tasks and services for the child’s benefit. Where a court finds a child dependent, it gains authority over both parents, even those that did not abuse or neglect the child.


Dep’t of Children & Fam. v. T.S., 154 So.3d 1223 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2015). The due process rights of both 17-year-old child and child welfare agency were violated when trial court dismissed dependency petition because child had run away from foster care placement and could not be located. Neither the child nor agency was allowed to present evidence, and there was no meaningful opportunity for either to be heard. The trial court was required to consider best interest of child before dismissing dependency petition.



C.L. v. Dep’t of Children & Families., 2013 WL 1844258 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Order placing child with aunt was reversed in part since it did not comply with statute requiring orders awarding guardianship to have written findings  stating why the goal was chosen over adoption, a proposed visitation schedule with the parents, and a provision requiring the aunt not to return the child to the parents without further court order.

In re H.T., 2016 WL 6775964 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Failure of child welfare agency to notify father of intent to seek permanent guardianship of daughter and juvenile court’s failure to conduct evidentiary hearing on agency’s motion violated father’s due process rights. For purpose of proceedings on remand, court noted order specifying minimum of one hour per week supervised visits with additional visits at permanent guardian’s discretion satisfied requirements and did not leave frequency and nature of visitation to guardian’s  discretion.


T.B. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2015 WL 6496316 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Father appealed decision placing children in permanent guardianship with relative, modifying his visitation, and terminating protective supervision by child welfare agency. Court order did not meet statutory requirements to list reasons why parents are not fit to care for child and why reunification is not possible through specific findings of fact. Court also erred by failing to conduct evidentiary hearing before allowing guardian to relocate out of state.




In re. J.J.V., 99 So. 3d 578 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court erred in finding child dependent as to father in case where child was removed from mother due to incident father was in no way involved in. Though father’s tattoos suggested past affiliation with a gang, there was nothing showing any imminent risk since he had no criminal history for two years and consistently visited and supported child.


D.R. v. J.R., 2016 WL 5596266 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Although trial court erred in dependency proceeding by placing children in father’s custody without complying with Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC), court’s error did not require that children be immediately returned to state. Instead, case would be remanded to determine whether it would be in children’s best interest to remain in father’s custody pending completion of ICPC process.



B.R.C.M. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2017 WL 1709786 (Fla.). Minor from Guatemala filed for dependency to obtain legal residency in United States. Florida Supreme Court found proper adjudication of dependency required court to make individualized factual findings and apply law to facts even if minor was seeking dependency ruling for sole purpose of obtaining legal residency. Minor’s motivation was irrelevant.




In re F.J. G.M., 2016 WL 3974568 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Mother sought adjudication of dependency of minor son, who was born in Honduras, to obtain special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status. Appellate court held father’s abandonment of child since birth over 13 years before was too remote to serve as basis for dependency, especially since mother ensured child was cared for while child lived in Honduras and supported and cared for child once in United States.

O.I.C.L. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2015 WL 4461164 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Private petition for adjudication of dependency was filed on behalf of 17-year-old illegal immigrant child from Guatemala. Child, who was well-cared for by uncle with permission of mother, did not qualify as dependent despite alleged prior neglect and abandonment by parents in Guatemala. Although court recognized that determination of child’s status as dependent should be made independent of motivations for seeking that status, it stated the purpose for this proceeding clearly was to help child secure Special Immigration Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) visa that would enable him to apply for lawful permanent residency (a green card), and secure path to possible citizenship. 

In re S.A.R.D., 2016 WL 145999 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Minor native of Honduras, who entered United States illegally and filed petition for dependency nine days before reaching age of majority, was not entitled to order of dependency on basis of abandonment by father more than 10 years earlier, as first step to eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status visa under Immigration and Nationality Act. Abandonment was too remote, minor was placed with family friends in United States, and minor was not at substantial risk of abuse, neglect, or abandonment for nine-day period of his minority status.




M.A.C. v. Florida Dep’t of Children and Families, 73 So.3d 327 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). In dependency proceeding, trial court improperly placed child with her father in another state before the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children were met. The trial court was required by the ICPC to obtain the “receiving state’s” agreement to the placement and ensure a statutorily compliant home study was performed. Since neither requirement was met at the time of the court’s placement order, the trial court’s order was reversed and remanded.


In re B.D., 102 So.3d 707 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court erred in re-opening closed dependency case that had ended in relative custody based on mother’s motion without an evidentiary hearing. Statute required evidentiary hearing and provision was important to ensure children are not put at risk given that most motions in this context come after a parent has failed to complete a reunification plan.


S.P.C. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 220 So. 3d 1290 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2017). After mother’s children were adjudicated dependent and trial court accepted case plan setting forth primary goal of reunification, trial court changed goal to permanent guardianship. Appellate court held trial court could not change primary goal of mother’s case plan without adequate evidentiary basis.



J.C.O. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2016 WL 4468112 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Father appealed decision of trial court adjudicating child dependent. During trial, court stated it would enter judgment of default if child welfare agency produced proof of service. After multiple improper interruptions by father’s counsel objecting to hearsay testimony regarding service, counsel was removed from courtroom. Trial court continuing to hear argument from agency on service issue after counsel was removed violated father’s right to counsel.



In re C.M.,
 73 So. 3d 320 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Trial court’s order denying mother’s motion for reunification with child after child was reunified with nonoffending father was facially deficient. Court’s order did not include findings required by statute, including whether reunification would harm child. Mother had substantially complied with her case plan for reunification, therefore there was a presumption that the child should be returned to her unless it could be shown that reunification would be harmful.

In re E.G–S., 113 So. 3d 77 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Though placement with father was appropriate given the lack of any allegations against him, procedural due process required the court keep case open where mother was in substantial compliance with her case plan and no evidence was presented at disposition that keeping the case open was harmful to the child’s best interests. 

In re I.N., 224 So. 3d 900 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2017). Father under no contact order with child born out of wedlock sought reunification, which juvenile court granted and mother petitioned for review. Appellate court found trial court must expressly determine not only whether child would be endangered by reunification with father but also whether reunification was in child’s best interest. Juvenile court incorrectly discounted guardian ad litem’s recommendations, believing that if father had sexually abused other children who were not child’s siblings, child would not be at risk of sexual abuse.



In re T.L., 98 So. 3d 785 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). In case where mother had completed her case plan tasks, trial court improperly denied reunification because it found it lacked evidence that mother had gained insight into the conditions that led to removal. Where a parent completes a case plan designed to remedy safety issues, there is a presumption the child can be reunified and no evidence was presented to rebut that presumption.



Brilhart v. Brilhart, 116 So. 3d 617 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court erred in issuing protection order against mother regarding her daughter because there was an insufficient evidentiary basis for ruling. Aside from father’s subjective concerns, the only evidence was testimony by a doctor who had spoken with the child but who had not been qualified as an expert witness and his testimony was based entirely on hearsay statements without proper admission.



Parrish v. Price, 71 So. 3d 132 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Former wife was authorized to petition for injunctions against domestic violence against former husband on behalf of two children since statute clearly indicated children were entitled to its protections and a family or household member could make the request.



Wade v. Dep’t of Child and Families, 57 So. 3d 869 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Agency hearing officer’s order terminating youth from road to independence program, an educational program for former foster youth, was not final for the purposes of judicial review since administrative appeal procedures were not exhausted; state statute required further review by the agency secretary.



R.F. v. Dep’t of Child and Families, 50 So. 3d 1243 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Trial court could consider evidence that it was in youth’s best interest to remain with his uncle despite lack of compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children where child went to New York on an authorized visit but refused to return home; despite lack of technical compliance with the Compact, a private home study showed uncle’s home was safe and child was doing well and a child’s best interest was paramount concern.





D.A.C. v. State, 2016 WL 6246697 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Juvenile appealed delinquency adjudication in three separate cases of three counts of misdemeanor battery and one count of criminal use of personal information. His motion to withdraw plea to criminal use of personal information was denied. Juvenile’s waiver of right to counsel in first delinquency case was not permissible basis for finding juvenile waived right to counsel in different case on different charge. Plea entered without counsel, which trial court accepted immediately after juvenile asserted right to counsel, was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.



M.S. v. Kids in Distress, 58 So. 3d 433 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Summary judgment was inappropriate in case where child was sexually abused by another child in an afterschool program because foster care provider knew about his history and may have failed to take appropriate action to prevent abuse; though trial court was correct that provider was not authorized by statute to disclose this information to afterschool program, provider could have disclosed the information to the school principal who could have instructed the program to take precautions.



A.D. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2015 WL 5163712 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Evidence in termination of parental rights case did not establish that father failed to substantially comply with case plan. Father had only one case plan task – to complete batterers’ intervention program. He did not comply until termination petition was filed, but then worked to complete course and fell just short of finishing 29-week program, completing all but three classes. While evidence that father remained volatile and engaged in verbal tiffs might warrant finding reunification would not be appropriate, it did not justify termination of parental rights.


A.S. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2015 WL 1448507 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Father appealed termination of his parental rights based on abandonment of infant son. Mother’s rights were terminated shortly after son’s birth. Trial court should have considered only father’s actions following his established paternity when deciding if father abandoned child. Evidence was not clear and convincing that father abandoned son or that terminating his parental rights was least restrictive means available.


I.Z. v. B.H., 53 So. 3d 406 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Clear and convincing evidence did not support finding that mother had abandoned child in termination trial; though mother did not visit child for months before the trial, it was due to her being incarcerated and a decision by the agency, whereas she had always maintained consistent visitation other than this time period.

J.E. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 126 So. 3d 424 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court properly terminated father’s parental rights on ground of abandonment. Father engaged in only token visitation, only complied with his visitation requirement once, and child did not consider him a parental figure.


R.W. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2015 WL 1342155 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Child welfare agency filed expedited petition to terminate parental rights to three-month-old child who suffered multiple fractures in his parents’ care. Father did not appeal termination of his rights. Mother consented to surrender of her rights. Trial court accepted surrender as free, voluntary, and knowing, and entered final termination judgment. Mother moved for reconsideration, which was denied. She did not file notice of appeal seeking review of order denying motion for reconsideration, resulting in dismissal of her appeal.




In re Z.C., 88 So. 3d 977 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court erred in denying termination petition and placing the children in guardianship with the maternal grandparents with parental visitation. The decision was based solely on the availability of the placement with the grandparents despite strong evidence that termination was in their best interests, including the parents’ history of denying and covering up the abuse.


D.G. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 77 So. 3d 201 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011).  Termination of father’s rights was appropriate due to his failure to comply with his case plan because he made only casual efforts to seek employment to support his child; father’s failure to obtain a certificate because he was unable to pay the $200 fee after passing GED test to help him gain employment, though he and mother admitted to paying $70 a week for cigarettes, supported finding that father lacked motivation and showed that trial court terminated rights due to his action not economic factors outside his control.

D.B. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 87 So. 3d 1279 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court properly terminated father’s rights even though he was not provided a case plan because father was not amenable to treatment. Father was provided mental health treatment for paranoid schizophrenia over eight years and consistently failed to take his medication resulting in hallucinations. A therapist also reported that the father would not be able to safely parent.


In re S.M., 2016 WL 275273 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Trial court terminated incarcerated father’s parental rights and denied his motion to set aside father’s implied consent to termination that resulted from his failure to appear at adjudicatory hearing. Public policy favors adjudication on merits over entry of default. Properly filed motion to vacate consent to termination of parental rights by default should be liberally granted. Father consistently asserted he did not abandon children and that mother kept children from him so that he could not provide support or forge meaningful relationship with them.


T.H. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2017 WL 2960589 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Father appealed final judgment terminating his parental rights. Trial court entered implied consent against father when he failed to appear at adjudicatory hearing and concluded father’s motion to vacate must be denied because he failed to present meritorious defense. Appellate court concluded trial court erred in denying motion to vacate because child welfare agency asked for continuance of adjudicatory hearing, father was hospitalized at time of hearing, and he presented argument as to each ground for termination.


D.M. v. Berkowitz, 112 So. 3d 575 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court erred in denying father access to documents in the court file on a private petition for termination. Confidentiality statute requiring good cause for disclosure did not apply to father as a party in the case and in the alternative, position as a father seeking to prevent termination would establish good cause in and of itself. Further, any sections of documents could be redacted to protect identity of prospective adoptive parents.


Guardian ad Litem Prog. v. M.H., 2016 WL 625830 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Child was conceived when father, who was married to child’s maternal grandmother, had sex with 16-year-old stepdaughter. Mother’s rights were terminated based on abandonment and child welfare agency sought to terminate father’s rights so now three-year-old child could be adopted. Proof of guilty plea or conviction in criminal proceeding was not required under statute allowing termination of parental rights of offending parent when child is conceived by sexual battery upon other parent.




M.C. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2016 WL 717694 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Child welfare agency proceeded directly to termination of parental rights action, claiming no services were required due to egregious nature of alleged abuse. Evidence did not support finding that mother inflicted caustic burn injury suffered by developmentally disabled child, when mother’s adult daughter and child’s older sibling actively assisted in child’s care. There was no evidence mother inflicted injury or knowingly failed to prevent it, and upon discovery of injury, she immediately took child to urgent care center.



A.H. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 85 So. 3d 1213 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Father’s rights were improperly terminated on ground that he failed to protect his children where he had been suspicious when his child had broken a leg, but he was unsure at that time that the mother had perpetrated the abuse. In fact, the child welfare agency had been unable to conclusively determine that the mother had caused the broken leg during its investigation and no evidence was presented that father knew more than agency.

N.F. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 82 So. 3d 1188 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Facts at termination hearing did not support ground that mother substantially failed to comply with her case plan where caseworker admitted she had followed recommendations in the plan. Three isolated incidents involving mother missing a court hearing, a visit, and pushing her boyfriend outside the presence of the child was not clear and convincing evidence that she had not demonstrated a change since children’s removal.


V.M. v. Home at Last Adoption Agency, 93 So.3d 1112 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Where mother consented to adoption and placed child with adoption agency, but never informed father, trial court was correct in finding father had not abandoned child. However, trial court should have dismissed the case after making that finding since it lacked jurisdiction absent filing of another custody or dependency petition.


J.C. v. K.K., 64 So. 3d 157 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Test for deciding of termination of father’s parental rights was least restrictive means was met based on evidence that father was given a case plan and had over one year to complete it but disappeared from child’s life for a year, there was no bond to protect or relationship between father and child to reestablish, child had formed strong bond with foster family, and long period it would take to strengthen bond with father would harm child further.


In re M.J., 101 So. 3d 1282 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court properly terminated mother’s parental rights. Despite having a case plan intended to teach her how to properly administer child’s HIV medications, she failed to demonstrate she was able to meet the demands of the complicated medical regimen.


C.K. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 88 So. 3d 975 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court abused its discretion in ordering no contact between parents during a drug court review hearing without notifying the father because he had refused to sign a medical release and the court could not determine whether he was using and posing a risk to the mother’s recovery. Father had been involved in the case and appeared previously and no other justification was provided for the lack of notice.


C.D. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2015 WL 848157 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). To terminate parental rights, state must show reunification poses substantial risk of significant harm to child and termination is least restrictive means of protecting child. Evidence was insufficient to support second finding that termination of mother’s rights to allow children’s adoption by maternal aunt was least restrictive means of protecting children from harm. Incompatible findings that children did not have relationship with mother but had bond with her weighed against termination.


T.D. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2016 WL 1062189 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.).Trial court’s error in failing to orally advise mother at close of termination of parental rights hearing of right to file motion alleging ineffective assistance of appointed trial counsel did not require reversal of termination order, given high standard of proof required to establish ineffective assistance of counsel. Child had been in protective custody for essentially entire life, and written notice of mother’s rights had been included in final order.




A.J. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 126 So. 3d 1212 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). While the record supported termination of parents’ rights regarding daughters based on father’s sexual abuse, evidence was lacking to show that termination was the least-restrictive alternative for their brothers absent showing that they witnessed, knew about, or were otherwise affected by the abuse.


S.D. v. Dep’t of Children & Fam., 2016 WL 6992649 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.). Father waived right to object to adult daughter’s testimony by computer in proceeding to terminate his parental rights to daughter’s younger siblings. Father initially agreed to her testimony by phone or computer, but revoked consent three days before trial. Daughter’s testimony over computer satisfied protections of confrontation clause. Witness was visible for judge to assess her credibility and father had opportunity to cross-examine her.