Temporary Custody By Extended Family


West Palm Beach Divorce and Family Law Attorney

As a general rule grandparents do not have custody rights or rights to "visitation" concerning their grandchildren once parents do not allow such custody or visitation. However, Florida, by statute, provides for temporary custody by extended family members in certain situations. Florida statute section 751 provides for a basis for temporary custody by an extended family member who:

  1. has the signed, notarized consent of the child's parents; or
  2. is caring full-time for the child in the role of substitute parent and with the child is presently living.

Extended family members are defined under the statute as:

  1. a relative within the third degree by blood or marriage to the parent; or
  2. the step parent of a child if the stepparent is currently married to the parent of the child and is not a party in a pending dissolution, separate maintenance, domestic violence, or other civil or criminal proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction involving one or both of the child's parents as adverse parties.

The Law offices of West Palm Beach divorce and family law attorney, Stephen J. Press has for over four decades represented parties in divorce and family law cases including temporary custody petitions. Mr. press represents his clients with care and compassion in a highly professional manner.

Purpose of The Law

The law recognizes that many minor children live with and are well cared for by members of their extended family. In many cases children live with grandparents. However, without a court order the extended family member has no authority to give complete care to the child in their custody because they have no legal document that defines their authority. Das, they typically cannot consent to reasonable medical care and enrolled child in school. These issues are taken care of upon obtaining the temporary custody order.

Process And Procedure

In order to obtain a temporary custody order utilizing this procedure the extended family member must file a Petition For Temporary Custody in the Circuit Court, family division. The petition must be verified (under oath) and contain the following information:

  • The name, date of birth, and current address of the child;
  • the names and current addresses of the child's parents;
  • the names of current addresses of the persons with whom the child has lived during the past five years;
  • the places where the child is live during the past five years;
  • information concerning any custody proceeding in this or any other state with respect to the child;
  • the residence and post office address of the petitioner;
  • the petitioner's relationship to the child;
  • the consent of the child's parents or the specific acts or omissions of the parents which demonstrate that the parents have abused, abandoned, or neglect of the child as defined in Chapter 39;
  • any temporary or permanent orders for child support, the court entering the order, and the case number;
  • any temporary or permanent order for protection entered on behalf of or against either parent, the petitioner, or the child; the court entering the order and the case number;
  • that it is in the best interest of the child for the petitioner to have custody of the child; and
  • a statement of the period of time the petitioner is requested temporary custody, including a statement of the reasons supporting that request.

If the parents consent to the temporary custody the court can grant the petition at an uncontested hearing. If one or both of the parents object, the petitioner must show by clear and convincing evidence that the child's parent or parents are unfit to provide care and control of the child. In determining that a parent is unfit, the court must find that a parent has abused, abandoned or neglected the child. Child support may be awarded, if requested and there is evidence of the parents ability to pay child support. Prior to the hearing the parents must notified by service of process either by personal service or by constructive service.

This procedure is not available to everyone and should only be used in situations where either the parents consent to the temporary custody or there is evidence of parental neglect or harm to the child. When those circumstances are present this is a valuable procedure available in a relatively straightforward manner.

Contact a West Palm Beach Divorce and Family Law Attorney

Please contact the Law offices of West Palm Beach divorce and family law attorney, Stephen J. Press, for a free consultation at 561-833-2772 or contact our office online.