(1) All proceedings seeking an adjudication that a child is dependent shall be initiated by the filing of a petition by an attorney for the department, or any other person who has knowledge of the facts alleged or is informed of them and believes that they are true.
(2) The purpose of a petition seeking the adjudication of a child as a dependent child is the protection of the child and not the punishment of the person creating the condition of dependency.
(3)(a) The petition shall be in writing, shall identify and list all parents, if known, and all current legal custodians of the child, and shall be signed by the petitioner under oath stating the petitioner’s good faith in filing the petition. When the petition is filed by the department, it shall be signed by an attorney for the department.
Terms Used In Florida Statutes 39.501
- Arraignment: A proceeding in which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
- Department: means the Department of Children and Families. See Florida Statutes 1001.40
- Dependent: A person dependent for support upon another.
- Mediation: means a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. See Florida Statutes 1001.40
- oath: includes affirmations. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
- Parent: means a woman who gives birth to a child and a man whose consent to the adoption of the child would be required under…. See Florida Statutes 1001.40
- Party: means the parent or parents of the child, the petitioner, the department, the guardian ad litem or the representative of the guardian ad litem program when the program has been appointed, and the child. See Florida Statutes 1001.40
- person: includes individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
- Protective investigation: means the acceptance of a report alleging child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, as defined in this chapter, by the central abuse hotline or the acceptance of a report of other dependency by the department; the investigation of each report; the determination of whether action by the court is warranted; the determination of the disposition of each report without court or public agency action when appropriate; and the referral of a child to another public or private agency when appropriate. See Florida Statutes 1001.40
- Safety plan: means a plan created to control present or impending danger using the least intrusive means appropriate to protect a child when a parent, caregiver, or legal custodian is unavailable, unwilling, or unable to do so. See Florida Statutes 1001.40
- Shelter: means a placement with a relative or a nonrelative, or in a licensed home or facility, for the temporary care of a child who is alleged to be or who has been found to be dependent, pending court disposition before or after adjudication. See Florida Statutes 1001.40
- Shelter hearing: means a hearing in which the court determines whether probable cause exists to keep a child in shelter status pending further investigation of the case. See Florida Statutes 1001.40
- writing: includes handwriting, printing, typewriting, and all other methods and means of forming letters and characters upon paper, stone, wood, or other materials. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
(b) The form of the petition and its contents shall be determined by rules of juvenile procedure adopted by the Supreme Court.
(c) The petition must specifically set forth the acts or omissions upon which the petition is based and the identity of the person or persons alleged to have committed the acts or omissions, if known. The petition need not contain allegations of acts or omissions by both parents.
(d) The petitioner must state in the petition, if known, whether:
1. A parent or legal custodian named in the petition has previously unsuccessfully participated in voluntary services offered by the department;
2. A parent or legal custodian named in the petition has participated in mediation and whether a mediation agreement exists;
3. A parent or legal custodian has rejected the voluntary services offered by the department;
4. A parent or legal custodian named in the petition has not fully complied with a safety plan; or
5. The department has determined that voluntary services are not appropriate for the parent or legal custodian and the reasons for such determination.
If the department is the petitioner, it shall provide all safety plans as defined in s. 39.01 involving the parent or legal custodian to the court.
(4) When a child has been placed in shelter status by order of the court, a petition alleging dependency must be filed within 21 days after the shelter hearing, or within 7 days after any party files a demand for the early filing of a dependency petition, whichever comes first. In all other cases, the petition must be filed within a reasonable time after the date the child was referred to protective investigation. The child’s parent or legal custodian must be served with a copy of the petition at least 72 hours before the arraignment hearing.
(5) A petition for termination of parental rights may be filed at any time.