How Long Does a Temporary Custody Order Last in Florida?

Florida temporary custody order
Key Takeaways
  • Indefinite Duration: A temporary custody order in Florida can last indefinitely until another custody-related order replaces it, with no specified end date.
  • Reasons for Seeking: Temporary custody may be sought due to various reasons like illness, military service, jail time, or death of the parents, among others.
  • Granting Temporary Custody: The court may grant temporary custody to a non-parent family member if it finds clear and convincing evidence that the parents are unfit and if it’s in the child’s best interest.
  • Modifications and Challenges: Temporary custody orders can be modified or terminated by petitioning the court, and parents have the right to challenge such orders.
  • Filing for Temporary Custody: To file for temporary custody in Florida, one needs to petition the court, providing necessary information about the child, the petitioner, and the reasons for seeking custody.

Temporary custody is awarded to a non-parent family member when the parents are not in a position to provide for the care of the child. It’s often a long-term but temporary arrangement necessary when the parents cannot provide for their child’s needs. There are many reasons for seeking a temporary custody order including illness, military service, jail time, death, or among other things. A temporary custody order in Florida can last indefinitely. It usually has no specified end date. It generally lasts until another custody-related order replaces it. 

Temporary custody recognizes that sometimes a child is cared for by an extended family member who isn’t their parent. It seeks to give that relative the rights they need to act similarly to a parent and make important decisions for the child. If you’re preparing for any potential temporary custody situation, you’ll need to take the correct legal approach. Speak to a Florida family lawyer like The Law Offices of Travis R. Walker, PA. You’ll receive the information and guidance you need during this difficult transition. 

What is Temporary Custody?

In Florida, the legal parents of a child are usually the only people with the right to raise their child how they wish. In most situations, a child lives in a traditional family with one or two legal parents having joint custody. This could include implementing a parenting plan between two separated or divorced parents. However, in some situations, another family member must look after the child and make decisions instead of the parents. Temporary custody allows non-parents to fulfill this obligation

Temporary custody in Florida is an arrangement for a trusted third party to have parental rights for a limited period. 

While it’s preferred, parental consent isn’t required for a court to grant temporary custody in Florida. The court may award temporary custody without the parents’ consent if it finds clear and convincing evidence that the  parents are unfit to provide for the care of the child and the arrangement is in the child’s best interest. 

A person filing for temporary custody in Florida must be an adult or an emancipated minor. In most cases, they must also be related to the child [View Doc]. Examples of relatives usually suitable to apply for temporary custody are: 

  • Grandparents
  • Uncles or aunts
  • Siblings
  • First cousins
  • Stepparents, when still married to one of the child’s legal guardians

A temporary custody order can change or end at different times depending on the specific situation. One or both of the child’s parents can petition the court to modify or terminate the temporary custody order. Alternatively, the relatives or parents may mutually agree the nature of the temporary custody should change. 

If a parent’s situation changes, the Florida court may deem them a fit parent. And if the child has been in temporary custody for a significant amount of time, the court may decide to reinstate parental custody. In these circumstances, the court will terminate the temporary custody order and formulate a reasonable plan to transition custody of the child back to the parent. Throughout the process, courts must adhere to “the best interests of the child” standard.

How to File For Temporary Custody in Florida

You must petition the court to request temporary custody over a minor. When applying, you’ll need to include the following information [View Doc]

  • Your name, as the petitioner seeking temporary custody
  • The full name, date of birth, and address of the child
  • The names of the parents
  • Your relationship with the child
  • The length of time you seek to have custody over the child.

There are some finer details to outline in the temporary custody forms in Florida, too. In the perfect scenario, you’ll obtain the consent of both parents and be able to waive service of process. At the very least, you must try to let the parents know you’re petitioning for temporary custody of their child [View Doc]

If you can’t obtain parental consent, consult a family law attorney, as you must demonstrate why you don’t need consent for your petition. You must also state whether you know of any  protective orders against or on behalf of either parent. [View Doc]

You may also seek financial relief when you file for temporary custody by requesting child support for the duration of the custody of the child. [View Doc]

The parents may challenge the petition within 20 days of receiving notice of the petition.[View Doc]. The court will then have a hearing to determine whether a temporary custody petition is appropriate. 

Is Temporary Custody the Same as Temporary Guardianship?

Both custody and guardianship of a child are similar in concept. When necessary, they’re both ordered by a court. However, there are some significant legal differences between these terms. 

Legal custody, even temporarily, grants you the authority to make all decisions concerning a child’s welfare. Custody is the same as having full parental rights for all intents and purposes. 

With custody, you can access confidential information about the child, such as medical or school records. You’ll be able to make health care decisions for them, including non-emergency surgery and psychiatric care. You can consent to the child’s participation in school activities, withhold consent for placement in special school programs, and even enroll them in a new school. 

Unlike temporary custody, guardianship doesn’t grant or revoke a biological parent’s custody rights. 

Temporary guardianship of a child doesn’t permit the same level of authority. When it involves a minor, this type of petition is often filed as an emergency when parents can no longer care for the child due to illness, disability, or death. Another person, who doesn’t have to be related to the child, must be appointed to fill this role. 

As a guardian, you can make “day-to-day” decisions that benefit the child’s welfare. But you’ll often find your power limited when faced with key choices, like moving the child to a different home. The specific authority a guardian has is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Seek Guidance Before Filing For Temporary Custody in Florida

Perhaps you’re preparing to fight for temporary custody of a child, or you want to challenge an existing award for temporary custody. It’s wise to look for legal assistance as you develop an action plan. 

Whatever your situation, contact the experienced team of family law attorneys at Travis Walker Law. With three offices in Florida, our experts are there for you through one of the most challenging times of your life.

Contact the Law Offices of Travis R. Walker for Legal Services Regarding Power of Attorney or Guardianship

You and your loved ones will save time, money, and frustration when you take care of issues involving durable and medical powers of attorney before an elderly person becomes so incapacitated that a guardianship proceeding is required. For more details about the differences between powers of attorney and guardianships, and for comprehensive estate planning assistance, call the Law Offices of Travis R. Walker. We can help establish a durable power of attorney and designate a health care surrogate that can best protect your loved ones and their assets.

We represent clients in Stuart, West Palm Beach, and throughout Martin and Palm Beach Counties and the Treasure Coast. Contact any of our offices for professional and personal estate planning representation.

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