Temporary or Concurrent Custody of a Minor Child in Florida by an Extended Family Member
Introduction: The Importance of Legal Custody When Caring for a Relative’s Child
Life is unpredictable, and sometimes it thrusts us into caregiver roles for a child who isn’t our own but is a family member. This situation is not uncommon, especially in Florida. If you find yourself in this position, it’s crucial to legally establish your caregiving role. Florida Document Specialists provides a flat-fee solution to navigate you through the legal intricacies of gaining temporary or concurrent custody of a minor.
The Necessity of Legal Authority: A Reality Check
You may feel emotionally and morally responsible for the child, but there will come a point when your authority may be questioned. These situations can arise in various contexts, such as:
Situations Requiring Legal Custody
- Providing medical consent
- Interacting with healthcare providers
- School enrollment
- Consent for educational programs or activities
- Accessing official records like birth certificates
The Limits of Informal Agreements
Options Available to Extended Family Members
You have two primary options to formalize your caregiving role:
Another option available to you is adopting the child through a relative adoption process. Contrary to popular belief, it’s entirely possible to file this type of adoption on your own, known as filing ‘pro se,’ without the need for an attorney.
If you’re considering this route, you’ll be pleased to know that we also operate Florida Family Adoptions.
As the premier nonlawyer adoption document preparation service in the state, we have successfully helped hundreds of families across Florida achieve the dream of permanent family stability through adoption.
If adoption is an option you’re considering and there is ongoing or pending involvement from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), it’s crucial to act swiftly. Once a child enters the foster care system through DCF, the likelihood of being able to adopt them diminishes significantly. Time is of the essence in such situations, and prompt action is vital to keep the door open for the option of relative adoption.
Petitioning for Temporary or Concurrent Custody
If adoption isn’t a viable option for you, there’s another pathway available: petitioning the court for an order granting either temporary or concurrent custody. It’s important to understand the distinction between the two:
Temporary Custody: This arrangement grants you the authority to make important decisions on behalf of the child, including medical care and education. It’s usually granted when the biological or legal parents are unable to care for the child due to various reasons such as illness, incarceration, or substance abuse. However, this does not terminate the parental rights of the biological or legal parents.
Concurrent Custody: In this scenario, both you and the biological or legal parents share custody and decision-making responsibilities for the child. This is often appropriate when the parents are still involved in the child’s life but are unable to provide full-time care, such as during extended military deployment or frequent business travel.
Thus, depending on your situation and the level of involvement of the biological or legal parents, you can opt for either temporary or concurrent custody.
Who Qualifies as an Extended Family Member?
Blood or Marital Relations
Blood relations within the third degree encompass grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles. These individuals are related to the child by virtue of biological connection. For example, a grandparent is considered to be a second-degree blood relative, fitting well within the ‘third degree’ requirement.
Marital relations refer to family connections made through marriage. This includes stepparents, stepsiblings, and in-laws, as long as the marriage is still intact. The idea here is that familial bonds can extend beyond biological connections, especially when there’s a stable, ongoing marital relationship between a parent and a stepparent.
Why This Matters:
If you fall into either of these categories, you are legally eligible to petition the court for either temporary or concurrent custody of the child, assuming other criteria like physical custody duration and parental consent are also met. Understanding your position in relation to the child can streamline the legal process and set clear expectations for your petition’s success.
Stepparents and Fictive Kin
Stepparents and individuals who have an emotionally significant relationship with the child, which possesses familial characteristics, also known as “fictive kin.”
Requirements for Filing a Petition
To be eligible, you must:
- Have had physical custody of the child for at least ten days in any 30-day period within the last 12 months.
- Have notarized consent from the child’s legal parents or be an extended family member fulfilling the role of a substitute parent.
The Journey to Securing Legal Custody Can Vary in Length, Depending on Your Specific Circumstances.
While we pride ourselves on completing and filing your paperwork in a timely manner, it’s important to note that the majority of any delays in acquiring legal custody usually stem from factors beyond our control. These factors can include the time required to properly serve legal documents to unresponsive or absent parents, as well as varying processing times depending on the specific court handling your case.
Some courts are more efficient and less busy than others, which can affect how quickly your case moves through the system. Once your case is filed, it operates on the court’s timeline, not ours. Even if all your documents are in order and submitted punctually, the court’s schedule and efficiency in handling cases like yours can greatly influence the overall time it takes to secure legal custody.
Common Misconceptions and Pitfalls
The Notarized Letter Fallacy
Many people operate under the assumption that a notarized letter from the biological or legal parents is all that’s needed to grant them legal authority over the child. While it’s a common misconception, the reality is often more complicated. A notarized letter might seem official, but it rarely holds up when you’re required to demonstrate legal custody. This is especially true when you encounter institutions like schools and healthcare providers, who typically demand more formalized proof of guardianship.
You may find that a notarized letter is adequate for short-term or less formal situations, such as picking up the child from school occasionally or taking them to a routine doctor’s appointment. However, these documents usually fall short when you need to make significant decisions, like consenting to medical procedures or enrolling the child in school.
The absence of an official court order can result in numerous obstacles and delays, often at inconvenient or critical times. For example, you may be prevented from accessing essential medical records in emergency situations or face challenges when enrolling the child in specialized educational programs.
Therefore, if you find yourself acting as a de facto parent for an extended period, it’s highly advisable to seek a more formal, court-recognized form of custody. This will give you the legal authority you need to make crucial decisions on behalf of the child.
Cost and Payment Details
Our service fee is a straightforward $895, which does not include court filing fees. However, we do offer payment plans to make this process more manageable financially. Additionally, if you’re facing financial hardships, you may be eligible for a Determination of Civil Indigency status by the court. If granted, you won’t have to pay the court’s filing fees and may also be exempt from fees associated with the service of process. Rest assured, if you qualify for this status, we will handle the preparation and filing of the necessary paperwork on your behalf.
Conatct Us Today
Making the right choices for the children you care for is paramount, and understanding the procedural steps for gaining temporary or concurrent custody can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here. With our specialized nonlawyer document preparation services, we strive to make the process as smooth and straightforward as possible.
If you’re ready to take the next step in ensuring a stable environment for your loved ones, don’t hesitate to reach out. Complete the contact form below and let us help you navigate this important journey.