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How can I find out who made a report to Department of Children and Families (DCF) on me in the state of Florida?

Names of persons making reports to the abuse hotline are confidential. Your focus should be on addressing the allegations of abuse or neglect.

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Will the court appoint a lawyer when I reopen my case?

The court should appoint a lawyer to represent you, upon request, if the case is reopened. Or you can hire an attorney. Often the issue is getting the case reopened and having the assistance of a lawyer can make a big difference. Hire someone to help you from the beginning, if you can.

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My daughter gave birth a week ago and the baby showed signs of addiction. Do we need legal representation for child abuse case opened by DCF?

You really should consult with one or more attorneys well experienced in these cases. Things can go wrong in ways you cannot imagine or foresee. This is your family 4 alarm fire.

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I need to know if a temporary guardianship agreement between my mother and I will keep CPS/DCF from taking my newborn?

I have known DCF to stay away in some cases if a relative obtains a custody order through family court. You and your mother should discuss this option with the child protection investigator. I am not clear what is involved with the temporary guardianship you gave your mother. It may or may not satisfy the child safety issues concerning DCF. The only way to find out is to ask.

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Do I have recourse to getting my daughter back without taking a case plan?

You have a right to a trial where the legal standard is higher than at the shelter hearing, and the rules of evidence apply. At trial the judge will decide whether your child is a dependent child based upon evidence presented.

If the judge decides there is no evidence to adjudicate the child dependent, the petition filed by DCF will be dismissed, child returned to you and there will be no case plan. If the judge rules the child is dependent, you will have a court ordered case plan.

You may want to schedule an appointment with your attorney after she or he receives more information (discovery) from DCF. The decision whether to take the case to trial is yours, however discussing the evidence and law with your attorney will allow for an informed decision. There are many considerations.

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Can Florida Department of Children & Families take a baby because of past DCF involvement in Connecticut because of their predictive neglect law?

Florida law has “imminent danger of illness or injury” language allowing for removal of children from parents. This may be the same concept applied in Connecticut. You can expect DCF in Florida to have access to the DCF records from Connecticut.

Whatever child safety issues presented in Connecticut do not go away by moving to Florida.

You have a right to an attorney and a formal trial, but if there are legitimate child safety issues I recommend that you get a good attorney and consider making some life changes.

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My rights have been terminated with 2 other kids and I’m pregnant right now will DCF take the new born also?

DCF will be involved. Whether they remove this child depends heavily on why you lost other children and your current circumstances. Have you addressed and remedied the issues causing the termination of your parental rights?

Removing the child from your custody at birth by court (shelter) order does not terminate your rights. But DCF may go that direction. Your actions influence decisions by DCF, and judges. If you are not stable, drug free and having prenatal health care, then you have some work to do.

Be proactive, get some advice. Find a lawyer now who practices dependency law in your area and review your case.

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Is it legal to use a belt on children for discipline in Florida?

While there is a difference between appropriate punishment and abuse, use of a belt or other object for corporal (physical) punishment can easily become abusive. Parenting is challenging, but positive parenting methods can eliminate risk of abuse to a child.  Parenting information and education is readily available.  If you know of a child who is subject to corporal punishment by a parent, step-parent or other person in the home it is a good idea to take a closer look and possibly action to ensure the child’s safety.