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How do I gain temporary custody of my granddaughter/grandson (or other extended family member)?

How do I gain temporary custody of my granddaughter/grandson (or other extended family member)?

In many cases, the issue of temporary custody arises when a parent places his or her child in the care of an extended family member who is better able to provide for the child at that time. This can be problematic for caregivers who lack legal documentation defining their relationship to the child, as they also lack the ability to consent to the care of the child by third parties--such as doctors, educators or other professionals. Fortunately, the state of Florida grants legal recognition to these extended family members, and has outlined procedures for them to go through to officially obtain temporary custody of the minor child in question.

Under Florida law, an extended family member may be granted "concurrent custody" or temporary custody. The state defines an extended family member as a person who is either a relative of the minor child within the third degree by blood or marriage to the parent, or the stepparent of the minor child (if currently married to the child's parent) who is not involved in any criminal or civil proceedings with one or both of the child's parents.

Concurrent custody means that an extended family member would have custodial rights to the child at the same time as the child's parent or parents. Concurrent custody broadens the definition of those who are able to care for and make decisions for the child. The Court is unable to grant a petition for concurrent custody if either parent objects. Furthermore, concurrent custody may not eliminate or diminish the parent's role in the child's life and does not affect the ability of the parents to obtain physical custody of the child at any time. For concurrent custody, the petitioning family member must also have current physical custody of the child, and must have had such custody for at least 10 days in any 30 day period within the last 12 months. The petitioner must also lack signed, written documentation from a parent which is sufficient to enable them to do all of the things necessary to care for the child which are available to custodians who have an order in place.

Temporary custody of a child can be granted to extended family members with the parents' consent or if the court finds that the parents have abused, neglected or abandoned the child as defined in Chapter 39, Florida Statutes (the Florida law governing dependency actions). If an extended family member is given temporary custody, the Court can provide for visitation rights to the parents. At any time, the parents may petition the court to modify or terminate an order of temporary custody. The Court will terminate the order based on a finding that the parent is a fit parent or with the consent of all parties.

Florida law also provides that child support may be established, modified or redirected to the extended family member, if appropriate under the circumstances.

Allowing a third party to have custody of a child on a temporary basis could also create issues for the biological parent(s) if not documented and handled properly. For example, a situation could develop where the other parent, or possibly the Department of Children and Families (DCF), could allege facts that lead to even bigger legal problems for the parent of the minor child.

All of these issues can be addressed most effectively under the guidance of a competent family law attorney. We believe you should receive the best legal representation, which is why we want to make sure you are best served by an attorney that is experienced and has compassion. The process of gaining custody of a minor child is one that you shouldn't try to navigate on your own seek legal representation as soon as possible.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller for a free consultation with one of our attorneys at (866) 496-8752 or via email at Info@ForYourLaw.com.

BY: Stephanie N. Mack, Board Certified Attorney in Marital & Family Law

May 28, 2012
 
 
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