Often times, families go through difficulties and need to step in and help with children of family members going through a crisis or life change. In many of these cases, family members do not need to adopt a child of a relative, but may need to step into the role of caretaker temporarily while the child or children’s parents get back on their feet. Florida law allows for extended family members to take temporary custody of a child in order to care for the child until the parent is in a position to do so once more.
In order to qualify to take temporary custody of a child by an extended family member, the family member must meet one of the following criteria:
- Related by the third degree to either the child or the parent by blood or marriage.
- Be married to the parent of the child (making them a step-parent); and not involved in any court proceedings against the child’s parent as an adverse party.
- Qualify as “fictive kin,” meaning that although the individual is not related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption, they have a significant relationship with the child similar to that of a familial relationship.
In order to be awarded temporary custody, the petitioning family member or fictive kin must have the signed and notarized consents of both of the child’s legal parents, or be caring for the child as a substitute parent full time with the child residing in their home. If you do not have the required consent of a parent, you may still be able to proceed if you can show that the parent has abused, abandoned or neglected the child. Definitions for these terms can be found in Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes.
If the court grants a family member temporary custody, such an order allows the family member or fictive kin to do such things as make medical and educational decisions for the child, enroll the child in school, obtain school and medical records, and grant permission for the child to engage in school and extracurricular activities.
The duration of the temporary custody may be a set time, such as six months or a year or until the child turns 18, or, the order may be more open ended such as for the foreseeable future. If the order does not have a set time period, the child’s parents would most likely need to return the court to end the temporary custody.
If you have any questions about how to proceed with receiving temporary custody of a family member’s child, or have other questions about Florida DCF, you can reach out to us at The Law Offices of Madonna Finney, (850) 577-3077, we would be happy to help!