(1) All procedures, including petitions, pleadings, subpoenas, summonses, and hearings, in termination of parental rights proceedings shall be according to the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure unless otherwise provided by law.
(2) The circuit court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction of a proceeding involving termination of parental rights.
(3) Before the court may terminate parental rights, in addition to the other requirements set forth in this part, the following requirements must be met:

(a) Notice of the date, time, and place of the advisory hearing for the petition to terminate parental rights and a copy of the petition must be personally served upon the following persons, specifically notifying them that a petition has been filed:

1. The parents of the child.
2. The legal custodians of the child.
3. If the parents who would be entitled to notice are dead or unknown, a living relative of the child, unless upon diligent search and inquiry no such relative can be found.
4. Any person who has physical custody of the child.
5. Any grandparent entitled to priority for adoption under s. 63.0425.
6. Any prospective parent who has been identified under s. 39.503 or s. 39.803, unless a court order has been entered pursuant to s. 39.503(4) or (9) or s. 39.803(4) or (9) which indicates no further notice is required. Except as otherwise provided in this section, if there is not a legal father, notice of the petition for termination of parental rights must be provided to any known prospective father who is identified under oath before the court or who is identified by a diligent search of the Florida Putative Father Registry. Service of the notice of the petition for termination of parental rights is not required if the prospective father executes an affidavit of nonpaternity or a consent to termination of his parental rights which is accepted by the court after notice and opportunity to be heard by all parties to address the best interests of the child in accepting such affidavit.
7. The guardian ad litem for the child or the representative of the guardian ad litem program, if the program has been appointed.

The document containing the notice to respond or appear must contain, in type at least as large as the type in the balance of the document, the following or substantially similar language: “FAILURE TO PERSONALLY APPEAR AT THIS ADVISORY HEARING CONSTITUTES CONSENT TO THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS OF THIS CHILD (OR CHILDREN). IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR ON THE DATE AND TIME SPECIFIED, YOU MAY LOSE ALL LEGAL RIGHTS AS A PARENT TO THE CHILD OR CHILDREN NAMED IN THE PETITION ATTACHED TO THIS NOTICE.”

Terms Used In Florida Statutes 39.801

  • Adjudicatory hearing: means a hearing for the court to determine whether or not the facts support the allegations stated in the petition in dependency cases or in termination of parental rights cases. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Adoption: means the act of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where it did not exist, thereby declaring the child to be legally the child of the adoptive parents and their heir at law, and entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child born to the adoptive parents in lawful wedlock. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Affidavit: A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.
  • Circuit: means any of the 20 judicial circuits as set forth in…. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Consent: means an agreement, including all of the following:
  • Department: means the Department of Children and Families. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Diligent search: means the efforts of a social service agency to locate a parent or prospective parent whose identity or location is unknown, initiated as soon as the social service agency is made aware of the existence of such parent, with the search progress reported at each court hearing until the parent is either identified and located or the court excuses further search. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Guardian: A person legally empowered and charged with the duty of taking care of and managing the property of another person who because of age, intellect, or health, is incapable of managing his (her) own affairs.
  • Guardian: means a relative, nonrelative, next of kin, or fictive kin who is awarded physical custody of a child in a proceeding brought pursuant to this chapter. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Judge: means the circuit judge exercising jurisdiction pursuant to this chapter. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
  • Legal father: means a man married to the mother at the time of conception or birth of their child, unless paternity has been otherwise determined by a court of competent jurisdiction. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Licensed child-placing agency: means a person, society, association, or institution licensed by the department to care for, receive, or board children and to place children in a licensed child-caring institution or a foster or adoptive home. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • 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 39.01
  • 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 39.01
  • 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 1.01
  • Pleadings: Written statements of the parties in a civil case of their positions. In the federal courts, the principal pleadings are the complaint and the answer.
  • Relative: means a grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, niece, or nephew, whether related by the whole or half blood, by affinity, or by adoption. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Service of process: The service of writs or summonses to the appropriate party.
  • Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
(b) If a party required to be served with notice as prescribed in paragraph (a) cannot be served, notice of hearings must be given as prescribed by the rules of civil procedure, and service of process must be made as specified by law or civil actions.
(c) Notice as prescribed by this section may be waived, in the discretion of the judge, with regard to any person to whom notice must be given under this subsection if the person executes, before two witnesses and a notary public or other officer authorized to take acknowledgments, a written surrender of the child to a licensed child-placing agency or the department.
(d) If the person served with notice under this section fails to personally appear at the advisory hearing, the failure to personally appear shall constitute consent for termination of parental rights by the person given notice. If a parent appears for the advisory hearing and the court orders that parent to personally appear at the adjudicatory hearing for the petition for termination of parental rights, stating the date, time, and location of said hearing, then failure of that parent to personally appear at the adjudicatory hearing shall constitute consent for termination of parental rights.
(4) Upon the application of any party, the clerk or deputy clerk shall issue, and the court on its own motion may issue, subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of records, documents, or other tangible objects at any hearing.
(5) All process and orders issued by the court must be served or executed as other process and orders of the circuit court and, in addition, may be served or executed by authorized agents of the department or the guardian ad litem.
(6) Subpoenas may be served within the state by any person over 18 years of age who is not a party to the proceeding and, in addition, may be served or executed by authorized agents of the department or of the guardian ad litem.
(7) A fee may not be paid for service of any process or other papers by an agent of the department or the guardian ad litem. If any process, orders, or other papers are served or executed by any sheriff, the sheriff’s fees must be paid by the county.