Minor children involved in allegedly dangerous or unstable home situations impact family members beyond a child’s parents and siblings. Extended family members also frequently lament the need for state intervention following a report of alleged abuse and/or neglect, and may be able to offer a temporary solution on dependency and child custody issues, relieving some of the concerns for the parents and the child. A recent article in the Orlando Sentinel describes circumstances that would greatly benefit from extended family members taking custody of children living in homes under investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families. The article discusses what happens to the children of parents repeatedly investigated for suspicion of abuse and/or neglect. Temporary custody by extended family has the benefit of offering the child a home with a person known to the child and who is likely to be personally invested in reuniting the child with the parent. Temporary care by extended family members may also be a preferable option if parents are physically and/or mentally unable to care for their children through illness or accidents. A discussion of what is necessary to petition for temporary custody with extended family members will appear below in hopes of informing families facing problems associated with dependency or child custody proceedings.General Information Needed in Petition
In order to receive temporary custody, an extended family member must file a petition with the court. Alternatively, the family member can request concurrent custody, which means custody of the child is shared with the parents, and allowing the parents to retain authority over decisions related to the child. The petition must contain certain information before a judge will consider the custody request, and this information will also be needed by any attorney to file the petition on your behalf. Florida statute requires all petitioners to provide the following information:
- name, date of birth and present address the child;
- names and addresses of the child’s parents;
- names and present addresses of anyone the child lived with over the previous five years;
- locations the child lived over the past five years;
- information relating to any custody proceeding involving the child over the past five years; and
- how the person requesting custody is related to the child.
Petitioners asking for concurrent custody have specific and additional types of information to include in these petitions:
- a list of documents, if any, from the child’s parents, giving the petitioner authority to act on the child’s behalf;
- how long the child lived with the petitioner over the past 12 months;
- if the parents signed consent for concurrent custody; and
- how receiving custody would allow the petitioner to obtain services or take action for the child.
Similar to the extra requirements for concurrent custody petitions, those seeking temporary custody have several types of documents to submit explaining why this type of custody is necessary. These documents include:
- parental consent or, if lacking, a statement outlining facts to support a claim the parents abused, neglected or abandoned the child;
- any child support orders;
- any order of protection issued for or against the parents, the petitioner and/or the child;
- a statement that granting temporary custody is in the best interest of the child; and
- a statement as to how long the petitioner is requesting temporary custody and the reasons for it.
The unfortunate circumstances that typically precipitate the need for temporary custody are often complex and provoke strong emotional responses. Retaining an attorney to bring an unbiased and logical perspective on the situation is beneficial to all the parties. With offices in Fort Lauderdale and Boynton Beach, Stok Kon + Braverman has many years of experience representing clients in these types of cases, and we can apply our knowledge to your case. Contact us to schedule a consultation.