What Is a Dependency Lawsuit in Florida?

Cases that involve child abuse, neglect, or abandonment in Florida also tend to involve a dependency lawsuit. Dependency lawsuits can significantly impact familial and parent-child dynamics and even change the outcome of a child abuse case depending on the lawsuit's results.

To schedule a consultation with our case and learn more about defending yourself against a dependency lawsuit, contact us online or via phone at (305) 853-9161.

How Do Dependency Lawsuits Work?

The state can file a dependency lawsuit when someone reports suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).

After CPS and the DCF receive a complaint, they will send an investigator to assess whether the child at the center of the reports must be removed from the home of the alleged abuser.

If the DCF does choose to remove the child from their parent's custody, it may serve the parent with a Petition for Dependency. The state will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child throughout the dependency suit. Guardians ad litem help ensure that a child's best interests are preserved throughout the case.

At the arraignment, the parent accused of abuse or neglect by the DCF has the chance to present evidence in their favor. If the court rules in their favor, it can give the child back to their parent. If the court rules against the child, the child may remain at a shelter or in protective custody with another party (such as a guardian the court trusts).

Dependency lawsuits can last for several years since the court can review the suit every six months and decide whether the child is safe and can reside with their parent.

At Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa, Family Law Attorneys, we'll work with you to defend you against a dependency suit. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (305) 853-9161.