What are Extended Family Custody Orders?

A father waves goodbye to his kids and their mother before getting in his car

There are many different reasons to enter into a Temporary Extended Family Custody Agreement of a minor child. Some parents recognize their inability to properly care for their child and acknowledge that family members are better equip to handle the responsibilities and needs of the child. In other cases, family members who have taken on the responsibility of the child wish to receive legal recognition of the relationship to allow them rights and abilities regarding the care of the child. If you are seeking the temporary custody of a family member’s child contact an Orlando Child Custody Attorney today to discuss the process and details involved.

Temporary custody by family members is governed by Florida Statute 751. Under Florida Statute 751.02 those who have standing to seek this form of custody only include: 1) extended family members who have signed and notarized consent of the child’s parents or 2) extend family members who have cared for the child in their home, full time. The extended family member must also provide evidence that the child has been in their physical custody for at least 10 days in any month for the last year. Further, the extended family member must be an adult, be related by blood or marriage to the child, or a step parent to the child. This includes nieces or nephews, aunts or uncles, first cousins, and grandparents.

Within the Petition, you must state the name and address of the child, parents, and the individual who the child has lived with in the last 5 years. If there are other custody proceedings, past or present, involving the child the court must be made aware of these. You must also go into detail as to the relationship between you and the child, the amount of time the child has lived with you, the actions you wish to take on behalf of the child and their care, and why this custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. If the parents have consented to the custody arrangement, a copy of this consent must be provided. If no consent has been obtained, you must provide the court reason as to how the parents have neglected, abused, or abandoned the child, removing the need for the consent.

The petition must be served on the parents and provide them with notice of the hearing. If no objection is made, the court may grant the petition if seen to be in the best interest of the child. However, if a parent objects, the court must find by clear and convincing evidence “that the child’s parents are unfit to provide for the care and control of the child.” If found to be unfit, the court may grant the temporary custody to the family member. Within the order, the court may provide for visitation between the child and parents and an order of child support to be paid by the parents to the family member. With this grant of custody, the family member is provided with the ability to consent to medical treatment for the child, consent to activities for the child, and enroll the child in school.

These custody arrangements have no definite time table, even though labeled as temporary. The termination of the temporary custody may occur through petition by the parents or family member. The order will be terminated if the court finds the parents are fit or all parties consent, and the termination of the current custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child.

Extended Family Custody Agreements are not uncommon and genuinely seek the best interest of the child in question. Therefore, if you are considering seeking temporary custody of a family member’s child discuss your rights with an Orlando Child Custody Attorney.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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