Terms Used In Florida Statutes 39.809

  • 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
  • Answer: The formal written statement by a defendant responding to a civil complaint and setting forth the grounds for defense.
  • Discovery: Lawyers' examination, before trial, of facts and documents in possession of the opponents to help the lawyers prepare for trial.
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • Judge: means the circuit judge exercising jurisdiction pursuant to this chapter. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.

(1) In a hearing on a petition for termination of parental rights, the court shall consider the elements required for termination. Each of these elements must be established by clear and convincing evidence before the petition is granted.
(2) The adjudicatory hearing must be held within 45 days after the advisory hearing, but reasonable continuances for the purpose of investigation, discovery, or procuring counsel or witnesses may, when necessary, be granted.
(3) The adjudicatory hearing must be conducted by the judge without a jury, applying the rules of evidence in use in civil cases and adjourning the case from time to time as necessary. For purposes of the adjudicatory hearing, to avoid unnecessary duplication of expense, the judge may consider in-court testimony previously given at any properly noticed hearing, without regard to the availability or unavailability of the witness at the time of the actual adjudicatory hearing, if the recorded testimony itself is made available to the judge. Consideration of such testimony does not preclude the witness being subpoenaed to answer supplemental questions.
(4) All hearings involving termination of parental rights are confidential and closed to the public. Hearings involving more than one child may be held simultaneously when the children involved are related to each other or were involved in the same case. The child and the parents may be examined separately and apart from each other.
(5) The judge shall enter a written order with the findings of fact and conclusions of law.