Child Abuse Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
Child abuse allegations frequently arise in child custody disputes. These allegations can range from criminal accusations such as child sexual abuse to neglect resulting from a parent’s substance abuse problems. Child abuse allegations reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) are investigated by the state and prosecuted in cases referred to as “child dependency proceedings.” These case are civil proceedings in which DCF may have removed a child from an abusive environment to protect the child from harm.
What Happens in Child Dependency Proceedings?
Children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected are removed by DCF in order to protect them from harm. Dependency proceedings are initiated to provide the parents with an opportunity to remedy their parenting problems and reunify with their children. Alternatively, DCF may seek to terminate parental rights in cases where the children have been subjected to egregious abuse. Termination of parental rights would free the child for subsequent adoption. Reporting false allegations of abuse is a crime in Florida and can result in civil penalties. Dependency proceedings can take months or even years before a child is returned to the care of its parents depending on the parent’s ability to address the underlying concerns. Alternatively, allegations of child abuse are frequently presented in the context of a child custody dispute and not reported to DCF. In those cases, the allegations are generally left to the court for resolution and do not involve DCF unless the allegations are also reported.
Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member
As an alternative to dependency proceedings, Florida law permits relatives of minor children to petition the court for an order of custody where the legal parents’ consent to the arrangement. An order may be obtained even where the arrangement is not consensual but that requires an evidentiary hearing with the court.
There are distinct benefits to obtaining an order to Temporary Custody as opposed to pursuing dependency proceedings. Additionally, there are strategic considerations in choosing whether to file a dependency action or relative custody petition. At Arcaro Law Group, we understand the legal options available to you are here to assist you in the course of action that is best for your family member. Our Fort Lauderdale child protection lawyers have valuable and insight that can help you protect children from abuse, and we can assist with a wide range of family law matters.