worried girl looking out windowThis is the next post in my series on filing for guardianship of a child in Melbourne, Florida. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to speak with an attorney if you or a loved one are in need of assistance. It is important that you contact counsel immediately as the Court takes claims for guardianship and non-parental custody very seriously. In this article I will be discussing who may, and who may not, file for guardianship in our state. This is a topic which may cause confusion to some. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with a guardianship lawyer.

Florida allows certain relative, stepparents, or “fictive kin” to file for guardianship of a child

The parties who may file for guardianship over a Florida child are defined by Chapter 751 of our state’s statutes. These individuals include first, second-, and third-degree relatives. They also include stepparents who a) are currently married to the biological parent and b) are not currently in divorce or criminal proceedings which involve the biological parent. Also, individuals who are considered “fictive kin” may file for a guardianship. These are people who are “…unrelated by birth, marriage, or adoption [but have] an emotionally significant relationship, which possesses the characteristics of a family relationship, to a child.” Fl Statutes 39.01. An individual meeting these criteria will have standing to file a Petition for Extended Custody. If an adult believes that a child is in danger, but does not fit this criteria, then they must pursue other avenues to help the child.

Individuals who have standing to file for a guardianship must understand that they cannot do so simply because they disagree with how the child is being raised. This is due to the fact that how a child is raised is considered the purview of the parents. A Petition requesting guardianship must allege that the child is being abused, abandoned, or otherwise neglected. Abuse or neglect, within this context, mean that the child is truly in danger. A parent who disagrees with the parent over what constitutes “proper” raising of a child will typically not meet this standard. It is strongly suggested that one consult with an attorney to determine if they have standing to bring a guardianship claim and to determine whether such a claim will have merit.

Contact our Melbourne office if you are attempting to gain guardianship over a child

If you are attempting to gain guardianship over a child then contact our Melbourne office immediately. Parties sometimes make the mistake of taking matters into their own hands when they believe a child is in danger. The Court will take a dim view of such “self-help” and, worse, there is a chance that the individual may find themselves charged with kidnapping if they attempt to remove a child from the home. By speaking with counsel you help to ensure that you are navigating the system in a proper manner.

Our guardianship lawyers have extensive experience in dealing with cases where a child is being subjected to abuse or neglect. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact us online or by telephone today to schedule an initial consultation. We also serve the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.