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Termination of Parental Rights

In Florida, Dependency is a legal area that is one of the most traumatic family law areas. When the Florida Department of Children and Families steps in, children can be removed from their parents by the State of Florida.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Child Protective Services can remove a child from their home after investigating allegations of child abuse, drug abuse, child endangerment or child neglect. The child or children can then become dependent upon the State of Florida and can be placed in the care of relatives, non-relatives, or in foster care until the allegations have been properly investigated or argued before a Judge. Ultimately, the goal is to return children to their parents when the children do not appear to be in danger. However, this is not always automatic. Our Florida Dependency attorneys work closely with accused parents and concerned relatives, neighbors, and friends to protect children from abuse and to reunify the family in the end.

When Will a Parent's Rights be Terminated?

Our Jacksonville Family Law Attorneys and Jacksonville Dependency Lawyers are familiar with cases involving the Department of Children and Families. It is important to get an attorney involved in cases of child abuse or neglect as soon as possible to help alleviate the need for a full dependency action. In working closely with the Department of Children and Families and with Child Protective Services, we can help client and their families why it is or is not in the child's best interests to be placed back in custody with their parents.

Parents' rights can be terminated when they fail to comply with the court’s order. In these circumstances, the court will determine if it is in the child's best interests to terminate the parents' rights so the child can be placed for adoption. Our Jacksonville Dependency attorneys have experience representing parents and concerned parties during this emotional time. We also represent families seeking to adopt an abused child or to become foster parents.

Grounds for termination of parental rights in Florida include:

  1. Voluntary surrender: When you have signed a written surrender of their parental rights to the child(ren)
  2. Abandonment as defined in F.S. 39.01(1)
  3. When you engage in conduct toward a child or toward other children that demonstrates that your continuing involvement in the parent-child relationship threatens the life, safety, well-being, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child irrespective of the provision of services, such as a case plan from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
  4. When you are incarcerated and:
    1. the period of incarceration will constitute a significant portion of the child’s minority; or
    2. you have been determined by the court to be a violent career criminal, a habitual violent felony offender, or a sexual predator, or has been convicted of first degree or second degree murder or a capital, life, or first degree felony sexual battery; or
    3. the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that continuing the parental relationship would be harmful to the child.
  5. A child has been adjudicated dependent, a case plan has been filed with the court, and you have not substantially complied with the case plan for 12 months after shelter care or adjudication of dependency or you have materially breached the case plan or you have failed to complete a case plan and the child has been in DCF custody for 12 of the last 22 months.
  6. You engaged in egregious conduct or had the opportunity to prevent and knowingly failed to prevent egregious conduct that threatens the life, safety, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child or a child’s sibling.
  7. You have subjected the child or another child to aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, or sexual abuse, or chronic abuse.
  8. You have committed murder, manslaughter, aiding or abetting the murder, or conspiracy to murder the other parent or another child, or a felony battery that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or another child.
  9. You have had your parental rights to a sibling of the child terminated involuntarily.
  10. Chronic use of alcohol or a controlled substance which renders you incapable of caring for the child and you have refused or failed to complete available treatment for a three year period prior.
  11. You have a child born positive for alcohol or a controlled substance and have had at least one other child adjudicated dependent due to alcohol or a controlled substance exposure with the opportunity to participate in treatment.
  12. Your child has been removed to an out-of-home placement on three or more occasions.
  13. Your child was conceived as a result of an act of sexual battery
  14. You are convicted of an offense that requires you to register as a sexual predator.
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