Parkland Foster Care Lawyer
Our child-focused family law attorneys at Williams & Varsegi, LLC, have experience beyond basic family law matters like divorce and child custody as they have significant experience handling dependency cases where children are in out of home placements. As former attorneys for the Guardians ad Litem Program representing children’s best interest in dependency cases and Assistant Attorneys General in the Children’s Legal Services bureau, prosecuting dependency cases, our lawyers are ideal candidates to help with cases where children are in foster care or other out of home placements (relative or non-relative care) in Broward or Palm Beach County. Our Parkland foster care lawyers represent foster families and relative/non-relative caregivers in dependency and termination of parental rights cases.
A child can be removed from the home based on allegations of abuse, neglect or abandonment. A series of hearings then follow to determine whether the family should be provided opportunities for reunification or if a parent’s rights should be terminated. Parents have a right to legal representation at every stage of this process, and the child’s interests may also be represented by a Guardian ad Litem – an attorney appointed by the court to advocate on behalf of the child’s needs as necessary. Caregivers for the child are participants to the dependency proceedings and thus, are not required to file a motion to intervene to participate in the proceedings. Furthermore, they are encouraged to attend and participate in the hearings. When the court finds the parents have substantially complied with their case plan and are ready to be reunified with their children, it is imperative that transition planning be implemented and the caregivers should be a significant part of this transition plan, such as beginning with unsupervised day visits, then transitioning to overnight visitation prior to full reunification to minimize trauma to the children.
Termination of Parental Rights
If the disposition in a dependency hearing is not in favor of reunification, then proceedings to terminate parental rights may follow. A petition to terminate parental rights can be brought by the state, the Department of Children and Families, a Guardian ad Litem, or any person who knows facts which would support a termination of parental rights, including the caregiver. The state of Florida includes more than a dozen different statutory grounds that would allow termination of parental rights, including but not limited to written, voluntary surrender of parental rights; egregious abuse; parent has engaged in conduct toward the child that demonstrates that the continuing involvement of the parent in the parent-child relationship threatens the life, safety, or well-being of the child irrespective of the provision of services; parental incarceration for a significant portion of the child’s minority; and failure to substantially comply with the case plan within the statutory time frame. In a termination of parental rights case, the court must also find that termination is in the manifest best interest of the child and is the least restrictive means of protecting the child from harm.
Foster Care and Adoption
A child placed in foster care can be adopted by the foster parents or others following a termination of parental rights. This process involves training for the prospective parents, a background check, home inspection and adoption home study, and placement in the home pending adoption. When a licensed foster parent has applied for adoption of a child permanently committed to the state, and the child has resided in the foster home for at least six months, the child may not be moved without an order from the juvenile court. The foster parents are entitled to receive prior notice of any hearing to enter such an order, and they may attend the hearing with legal representation. Our compassionate and committed foster care attorneys can provide practical advice and effective advocacy in this process on behalf of the foster parents.
Experienced Foster Care Representation from Parkland Child-Focused Family Lawyers
For help with a foster care matter in Broward County or Palm Beach County, call on the Parkland child-focused family law attorneys at Williams & Varsegi, LLC, for assistance, at 954-255-5655.