Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Family Law
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After an adjudicatory hearing, the trial court entered judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights to her child. Mother appealed, alleging ten claims of ineffective assistance of counsel regarding her counsel’s performance in the termination of parental rights (TPR) proceedings. The district court of appeal applied the Washington v. Strickland standard to Mother’s ineffective assistance of counsel claims and affirmed the order terminating Mother’s parental rights. The district court subsequently certified two questions regarding the right to effective counsel in TPR proceedings and vindication of that right. In its opinion, the Supreme Court established the appropriate standard for determining whether counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance in termination of parental rights proceedings and directing the development of rules providing the procedure for vindicating a parent’s constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel in TPR proceedings. The Court then affirmed in this case, holding that Mother failed to present any basis for setting aside the order terminating her parental rights. View "J.B. v. Fla. Dep’t of Children & Families" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the evidentiary standard of proof that applies in an initial license application proceeding under Florida’s Administrative Procedure Act. In 2011, a family day care licensed under Fla. Stat. 402.313 submitted an initial application for a large family child care home license under Fla. Stat. 402.3131. An administrative law judge (ALJ) recommended that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) grant a provisional large family child care license. DCF rejected the ALJ’s recommendation and denied the day care’s application for a large family child care home license. In so doing, DCF rejected the ALJ’s conclusion of law that the clear and convincing evidence standard applied to the denial of the day care’s initial license application, instead concluding that it needed only to produce competent substantial evidence of its stated reasons for denying the application. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded for DCF to enter a final order adopting the ALJ’s recommendation, concluding that the clear and convincing evidence standard applied. The Court quashed the Second District’s decision, holding that the preponderance of the evidence standard applied in this initial license application proceeding. View "Fla. Dep’t of Children & Families v. Davis Family Daycare Home" on Justia Law

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Two women, DMT and TMH, agreed to jointly conceive and raise a child together. The child was conceived through the use of assisted reproductive technology. TMH provided the egg, and DMT gave birth to the child. The couple participated in raising their child together until their relationship ended and DMT absconded with the child. TMH sought to establish her parental rights to the child and to reassume parental responsibilities. The court of appeal concluded that Florida's assisted reproductive technology statute was unconstitutional as applied to TMH because it automatically deprived TMH of her ability to assert her fundamental right to be a parent. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that, based on the circumstances of this case, the statute was unconstitutional as applied to abridge TMH's fundamental right to be a parent and violated state and federal equal protection by denying same-sex couples the statutory protection against the automatic relinquishment of parental rights that it affords to heterosexual unmarried couples seeking to utilize the assistance of reproductive technology. Remanded. View "D.M.T. v. T.M.H." on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted of several crimes, including the kidnapping of his eleven-year-old son. At issue was whether a parent could lawfully be convicted of kidnapping his own child under section 787.01, Florida Statutes. The court held that the plain language of section 787.01 did not preclude a parent from being held criminally liable for kidnapping his or her own child. View "Davila v. State" on Justia Law