Dependency Proceedings and Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) Defense

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Parents have a United States constitutional right to raise their children.

Whenever the State interferes with a parent’s raising of their children, the parent’s US Constitutional right to care, custody, and control his/her child, is invoked.  This is a fundamental right under the Constitution, and as such, when the State of Florida takes such action, the State of Florida must prove due process.  Due process means that throughout the dependency case, parents have the right to an attorney, reasonable notice to all hearings, and visitation with the child unless visitation would be detrimental or not in the best interest of the child.

However, a parental right to make decisions concerning treatment of their child is not absolute. The state has Parens Patriae authority to ensure that children receive reasonable care including protecting the child from abuse, abandonment, neglect and imminent harm.  In effect, there is a State of Florida and Federally required “minimum level of care” that must be met in caring for a child or the State will step in and apply that minimum under the doctrine of Parens Patriea.

When the State of Florida interferes with the rights of parents to raise their children the goal is generally remediation of the problem, and reunification of the family.  However, if remediation is not possible, or the treatment that caused the state of Florida to step in was severe, then the State of Florida may skip over the remediation and unification process and move directly to a termination of parental rights hearing.  Involuntary termination of parental rights occurs through dependency proceedings.

The dependency proceeding is the process by which the state intervenes in a family because of a belief that the child is being abused, neglected, or abandoned.  Dependency Proceeding will take 3 months to 2 years. The goal is remediation and reunification. Remediation means fixing the problem that caused the abuse, neglect, or abandonment which placed the child in imminent harm.  Reunification means reuniting the family.

However, if the parenting defects are not fixed, a Termination of Parental Rights Hearing (TPR Hearing) will follow in lieu of reunification. In addition, if the conduct toward the child was so deplorable or fault based, the state can elect to move directly to the Termination of Parental Rights Hearing.  After Termination of Parental Rights Florida chapter 39 adoption will follow.

Having children removed from your home is a traumatizing experience.  In theory the idea that the goal is remediation may sound like some comfort, but as a practical matter the department of Children and Families is burdened by heavy caseloads, and it would be naïve to believe that they have the time to fully explore every case to fullest and always get decisions correct.

We understand that dependency hearings can be traumatizing, emotionally difficult, stressful, and frustrating process for the entire family because we’re people.

We also happen to be Florida Family Law Attorneys.

We can help.

Our Florida family law lawyers serve clients in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami Dade County, and most other Florida cities and counties.

Call us. We want to hear your story, and share ours.

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