abandonment: means a situation in which the parent or legal custodian of a child or, in the absence of a parent or legal custodian, the caregiver, while being able, has made no significant contribution to the child's care and maintenance or has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child, or both. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Abuse: means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual abuse, injury, or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
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 1001.38
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 1001.38
Adult basic education: means courses of instruction designed to improve the employability of the state's workforce through instruction in mathematics, reading, language, and workforce readiness skills at grade level equivalency 0-8. See Florida Statutes 1004.02
Adult general education: means comprehensive instructional programs designed to improve the employability of the state's workforce through adult basic education, adult secondary education, English for Speakers of Other Languages, applied academics for adult education instruction, and instruction for adults with disabilities. See Florida Statutes 1004.02
Adult secondary education: means courses through which a person receives high school credit that leads to the award of a high school diploma or courses of instruction through which a student prepares to take the high school equivalency examination. See Florida Statutes 1004.02
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.
Affirmed: In the practice of the appellate courts, the decree or order is declared valid and will stand as rendered in the lower court.
Allegation: something that someone says happened.
Amendment: A proposal to alter the text of a pending bill or other measure by striking out some of it, by inserting new language, or both. Before an amendment becomes part of the measure, thelegislature must agree to it.
Answer: The formal written statement by a defendant responding to a civil complaint and setting forth the grounds for defense.
Appeal: A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the appellant.
Appellate: About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgement of another lower court or tribunal.
Appraisal: A determination of property value.
Appropriation: The provision of funds, through an annual appropriations act or a permanent law, for federal agencies to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. The formal federal spending process consists of two sequential steps: authorization
Arbitration: means a process whereby a neutral third person or panel, called an arbitrator or an arbitration panel, considers the facts and arguments presented by the parties and renders a decision which may be binding or nonbinding. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
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.
Arrest: Taking physical custody of a person by lawful authority.
assessment: means the gathering of information for the evaluation of a child's and caregiver's physical, psychiatric, psychological, or mental health; developmental delays or challenges; and educational, vocational, and social condition and family environment as they relate to the child's and caregiver's need for rehabilitative and treatment services, including substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, developmental services, literacy services, medical services, family services, and other specialized services, as appropriate. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Assets: (1) The property comprising the estate of a deceased person, or (2) the property in a trust account.
Attachment: A procedure by which a person's property is seized to pay judgments levied by the court.
Caregiver: means the parent, legal custodian, permanent guardian, adult household member, or other person responsible for a child's welfare as defined in subsection (54). See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Chief judge: The judge who has primary responsibility for the administration of a court but also decides cases; chief judges are determined by seniority.
Child Protection Team: means a team of professionals established by the Department of Health to receive referrals from the protective investigators and protective supervision staff of the department and to provide specialized and supportive services to the program in processing child abuse, abandonment, or neglect cases. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Child who has exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior: means a child who has been found by the department or the court to have committed an inappropriate sexual act. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Child who is found to be dependent: means a child who, pursuant to this chapter, is found by the court:
(a) To have been abandoned, abused, or neglected by the child's parent or parents or legal custodians;
(b) To have been surrendered to the department, the former Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, or a licensed child-placing agency for purpose of adoption;
(c) To have been voluntarily placed with a licensed child-caring agency, a licensed child-placing agency, an adult relative, the department, or the former Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, after which placement, under the requirements of this chapter, a case plan has expired and the parent or parents or legal custodians have failed to substantially comply with the requirements of the plan;
(d) To have been voluntarily placed with a licensed child-placing agency for the purposes of subsequent adoption, and a parent or parents have signed a consent pursuant to the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure;
(e) To have no parent or legal custodians capable of providing supervision and care;
(f) To be at substantial risk of imminent abuse, abandonment, or neglect by the parent or parents or legal custodians; or
(g) To have been sexually exploited and to have no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative currently known and capable of providing the necessary and appropriate supervision and care. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Clerk of court: An officer appointed by the court to work with the chief judge in overseeing the court's administration, especially to assist in managing the flow of cases through the court and to maintain court records.
Common law: The legal system that originated in England and is now in use in the United States. It is based on judicial decisions rather than legislative action.
Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
Concurrent planning: means establishing a permanency goal in a case plan that uses reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parent, while at the same time establishing another goal that must be one of the following options:
(a) Adoption when a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed or will be filed;
Concurrent resolution: A legislative measure, designated "S. Con. Res." and numbered consecutively upon introduction, generally employed to address the sentiments of both chambers, to deal with issues or matters affecting both houses, such as a concurrent budget resolution, or to create a temporary joint committee. Concurrent resolutions are not submitted to the President/Governor and thus do not have the force of law.
Consent: means an agreement, including all of the following:
Continuance: Putting off of a hearing ot trial until a later time.
Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
controlled substance: means prescription drugs not prescribed for the parent or not administered as prescribed and controlled substances as outlined in Schedule I or Schedule II of…. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
Corporation: A legal entity owned by the holders of shares of stock that have been issued, and that can own, receive, and transfer property, and carry on business in its own name.
Cross examine: Questioning of a witness by the attorney for the other side.
Damages: Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.
Defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
Dependent: A person dependent for support upon another.
Devise: To gift property by will.
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 1001.38
Discovery: Lawyers' examination, before trial, of facts and documents in possession of the opponents to help the lawyers prepare for trial.
Dismissal: The dropping of a case by the judge without further consideration or hearing. Source:
Disposition hearing: means a hearing in which the court determines the most appropriate protections, services, and placement for the child in dependency cases. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Docket: A log containing brief entries of court proceedings.
Donor: The person who makes a gift.
Equitable: Pertaining to civil suits in "equity" rather than in "law." In English legal history, the courts of "law" could order the payment of damages and could afford no other remedy. See damages. A separate court of "equity" could order someone to do something or to cease to do something. See, e.g., injunction. In American jurisprudence, the federal courts have both legal and equitable power, but the distinction is still an important one. For example, a trial by jury is normally available in "law" cases but not in "equity" cases. Source: U.S. Courts
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.
Ex officio: Literally, by virtue of one's office.
Executive session: A portion of the Senate's daily session in which it considers executive business.
Expedited termination of parental rights: means proceedings wherein a case plan with the goal of reunification is not being offered. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Fair market value: The price at which an asset would change hands in a transaction between a willing, informed buyer and a willing, informed seller.
Family: means a collective body of persons, consisting of a child and a parent, legal custodian, or adult relative, in which:
(a) The persons reside in the same house or living unit; or
(b) The parent, legal custodian, or adult relative has a legal responsibility by blood, marriage, or court order to support or care for the child. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
Fictive kin: means a person unrelated by birth, marriage, or adoption who has an emotionally significant relationship, which possesses the characteristics of a family relationship, to a child. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Fiscal year: The fiscal year is the accounting period for the government. For the federal government, this begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; for example, fiscal year 2006 begins on October 1, 2005 and ends on September 30, 2006.
Forgery: The fraudulent signing or alteration of another's name to an instrument such as a deed, mortgage, or check. The intent of the forgery is to deceive or defraud. Source: OCC
Foster care: means care provided a child in a foster family or boarding home, group home, agency boarding home, child care institution, or any combination thereof. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Fraud: Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.
Gift: A voluntary transfer or conveyance of property without consideration, or for less than full and adequate consideration based on fair market value.
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 1001.38
Guardianship Assistance Program: means a program that provides benefits to a child's guardian on behalf of the child. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Habeas corpus: A writ that is usually used to bring a prisoner before the court to determine the legality of his imprisonment. It may also be used to bring a person in custody before the court to give testimony, or to be prosecuted.
Indemnification: In general, a collateral contract or assurance under which one person agrees to secure another person against either anticipated financial losses or potential adverse legal consequences. Source: FDIC
Injunction: An order of the court prohibiting (or compelling) the performance of a specific act to prevent irreparable damage or injury.
Intestate: Dying without leaving a will.
Joint committee: Committees including membership from both houses of teh legislature. Joint committees are usually established with narrow jurisdictions and normally lack authority to report legislation.
Joint resolution: A legislative measure which requires the approval of both chambers.
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.
Juvenile sexual abuse: means any sexual behavior by a child which occurs without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Lease: A contract transferring the use of property or occupancy of land, space, structures, or equipment in consideration of a payment (e.g., rent). Source: OCC
Legal custody: means a legal status created by a court which vests in a custodian of the person or guardian, whether an agency or an individual, the right to have physical custody of the child and the right and duty to protect, nurture, guide, and discipline the child and to provide him or her with food, shelter, education, and ordinary medical, dental, psychiatric, and psychological care. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
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 1001.38
Legislative Auditing Committee: means a committee or committees designated by joint rule of the Legislature, by the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or by agreement between the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
Legislative session: That part of a chamber's daily session in which it considers legislative business (bills, resolutions, and actions related thereto).
Liabilities: The aggregate of all debts and other legal obligations of a particular person or legal entity.
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 1001.38
Lien: A claim against real or personal property in satisfaction of a debt.
Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
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 1001.38
Medical neglect: means the failure to provide or the failure to allow needed care as recommended by a health care practitioner for a physical injury, illness, medical condition, or impairment, or the failure to seek timely and appropriate medical care for a serious health problem that a reasonable person would have recognized as requiring professional medical attention. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
Necessary medical treatment: means care which is necessary within a reasonable degree of medical certainty to prevent the deterioration of a child's condition or to alleviate immediate pain of a child. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Next of kin: means an adult relative of a child who is the child's brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or first cousin. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Nolo contendere: No contest-has the same effect as a plea of guilty, as far as the criminal sentence is concerned, but may not be considered as an admission of guilt for any other purpose.
Nonrelative: means a person unrelated by blood or marriage or a relative outside the fifth degree of consanguinity. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Obligation: An order placed, contract awarded, service received, or similar transaction during a given period that will require payments during the same or a future period.
Office: means the Office of Adoption and Child Protection within the Executive Office of the Governor. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability: means an entity designated by joint rule of the Legislature or by agreement between the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
Oversight: Committee review of the activities of a Federal agency or program.
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 1001.38
Partnership: A voluntary contract between two or more persons to pool some or all of their assets into a business, with the agreement that there will be a proportional sharing of profits and losses.
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 1001.38
Permanency goal: means the living arrangement identified for the child to return to or identified as the permanent living arrangement of the child. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Permanency plan: means the plan that establishes the placement intended to serve as the child's permanent home. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Permanent guardian: means the relative or other adult in a permanent guardianship of a dependent child under…. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Permanent guardianship of a dependent child: means a legal relationship that a court creates under…. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
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
Physical injury: means death, permanent or temporary disfigurement, or impairment of any bodily part. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Physician: means any licensed physician, dentist, podiatric physician, or optometrist and includes any intern or resident. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Plea: In a criminal case, the defendant's statement pleading "guilty" or "not guilty" in answer to the charges, a declaration made in open court.
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.
political subdivision: include counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, special road and bridge districts, bridge districts, and all other districts in this state. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
Power of attorney: A written instrument which authorizes one person to act as another's agent or attorney. The power of attorney may be for a definite, specific act, or it may be general in nature. The terms of the written power of attorney may specify when it will expire. If not, the power of attorney usually expires when the person granting it dies. Source: OCC
Presiding officer: A majority-party Senator who presides over the Senate and is charged with maintaining order and decorum, recognizing Members to speak, and interpreting the Senate's rules, practices and precedents.
Preventive services: means social services and other supportive and rehabilitative services provided to the parent or legal custodian of the child and to the child for the purpose of averting the removal of the child from the home or disruption of a family which will or could result in the placement of a child in foster care. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Pro se: A Latin term meaning "on one's own behalf"; in courts, it refers to persons who present their own cases without lawyers.
Probable cause: A reasonable ground for belief that the offender violated a specific law.
Probate: Proving a will
Probation: A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed.
Prospective parent: means a person who claims to be, or has been identified as, a person who may be a mother or a father of a child. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
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 1001.38
Protective investigator: means an authorized agent of the department who receives and investigates reports of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect; who, as a result of the investigation, may recommend that a dependency petition be filed for the child; and who performs other duties necessary to carry out the required actions of the protective investigation function. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Protective supervision: means a legal status in dependency cases which permits the child to remain safely in his or her own home or other nonlicensed placement under the supervision of an agent of the department and which must be reviewed by the court during the period of supervision. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Public defender: Represent defendants who can't afford an attorney in criminal matters.
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 1001.38
Remainder: An interest in property that takes effect in the future at a specified time or after the occurrence of some event, such as the death of a life tenant.
Reporter: Makes a record of court proceedings and prepares a transcript, and also publishes the court's opinions or decisions (in the courts of appeals).
Restitution: The court-ordered payment of money by the defendant to the victim for damages caused by the criminal action.
Reunification services: means social services and other supportive and rehabilitative services provided to the parent of the child, to the child, and, where appropriate, to the relative placement, nonrelative placement, or foster parents of the child, for the purpose of enabling a child who has been placed in out-of-home care to safely return to his or her parent at the earliest possible time. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Roll call vote : A vote in which each legislator votes "yea" or "nay" as his or her name is called by the Clerk, so that the names of legislators voting on each side are recorded.
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 1001.38
Service of process: The service of writs or summonses to the appropriate party.
Settlement: Parties to a lawsuit resolve their difference without having a trial. Settlements often involve the payment of compensation by one party in satisfaction of the other party's claims.
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 1001.38
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 1001.38
Sibling: means :
(a) A child who shares a birth parent or legal parent with one or more other children; or
(b) A child who has lived together in a family with one or more other children whom he or she identifies as siblings. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Social service agency: means the department, a licensed child-caring agency, or a licensed child-placing agency. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Statute: A law passed by a legislature.
Statute of limitations: A law that sets the time within which parties must take action to enforce their rights.
Subpoena: A command to a witness to appear and give testimony.
Subpoena duces tecum: A command to a witness to produce documents.
Substance abuse: means using, without medical reason, any psychoactive or mood-altering drug, including alcohol, in such a manner as to induce impairment resulting in dysfunctional social behavior. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Substantial compliance: means that the circumstances which caused the creation of the case plan have been significantly remedied to the extent that the well-being and safety of the child will not be endangered upon the child's remaining with or being returned to the child's parent. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Summons: Another word for subpoena used by the criminal justice system.
Taken into custody: means the status of a child immediately when temporary physical control over the child is attained by a person authorized by law, pending the child's release or placement. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Temporary legal custody: means the relationship that a court creates between a child and an adult relative of the child, legal custodian, agency, or other person approved by the court until a more permanent arrangement is ordered. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Testify: Answer questions in court.
Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
Trial: A hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to give evidence.
Trust account: A general term that covers all types of accounts in a trust department, such as estates, guardianships, and agencies. Source: OCC
Venue: The geographical location in which a case is tried.
Victim: means any child who has sustained or is threatened with physical, mental, or emotional injury identified in a report involving child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, or child-on-child sexual abuse. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
Workforce literacy: means the basic skills necessary to perform in entry-level occupations or the skills necessary to adapt to technological advances in the workplace. See Florida Statutes 1004.02
Writ: A formal written command, issued from the court, requiring the performance of a specific act.
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
youth: means any unmarried person under the age of 18 years who has not been emancipated by order of the court. See Florida Statutes 1001.38