Custody of Niece in Florida

by Robin from Branford, Florida, Suwannee County

Hi My Name is Robin. My niece Anna who is from Ohio was given custody of her Husbands nieces. They were taken away from their natural parents because of drugs and etc.

Anna came to Florida and lived with me for a while. She left one of the children with me who is 14.

This child has been bounced around all her life. She has learning disabilities. She has been with me for 1 year now and I have been supporting her taking her to the doctor and dentist. I am attempting to get her in a private school under the Mckay scholarship (this is for kids with learning problems).

Anna the aunt signed a paper giving me rights to the child to seek medical and such but the school says no good, this form is notarized. So I am wanting to try and go under the Petition for temporary custody by extended family member. Can I do this or what do I need to do?

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Robin,

The world needs more people like you. In years past it was commonplace for extended family members to care for relatives children.

These informal custody arrangements still happen, but unfortunately they have become more difficult to navigate. I'm not sure why the schools are demanding that extended family members have formal custody, but they must have their reasons.

The process you're referring to is codified in Florida Statute 751. I've included parts of the statute at the end of this post.Recently when I checked one of the Florida Clerk of Court websites I found that the filing fee for that process is $400. Some of the judicial circuits provide the forms on their websites, and others don't.

751.011 Definitions.--As used in ss. 751.01-751.05, the term "extended family member" is any person who is:
(1) A relative within the third degree by blood or marriage to the parent; or
(2) The stepparent of a child if the stepparent is currently married to the parent of the child and is not a party in a pending dissolution, separate maintenance, domestic violence, or other civil or criminal proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction involving one or both of the child's parents as an adverse party.

You can read more about this law at our Temporary Custody by Extended Family Members page. It has information on all the forms, instructions and other useful tips to help you get custody of your niece.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Comments for Custody of Niece in Florida

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Florida Guardianship Question
by: Laurie from Palatka, Florida, Putnam County

My daughter has full custody of her 4 year old daughter with only supervised visitation rights to the father. My daughter is having problems right now is is willing to sign guardianship of her daughter over to her mother and father. My question is: since mother has full custody and father only supervised visitation rights, will the father have to sign over guardianship also?

--I can't be sure from your question whether the father will need to sign over guardianship or not. When you say your daughter has "full custody" I must assume that you mean physical and legal custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding the child.

And since the father has only supervised visitation rights, I am also assuming that must be for a reason. I suggest that you research a Petition for Temporary Custody according to Florida Statute 751 (see answer above). --Staff

Family Custody Without Father's Consent
by: Athena from Port Orange, Florida, Volusia County

My niece wants to give me her daughter. The father has nothing what-so-ever to do with the child. No visits, no calls and of course no child support. Is there any way of doing this without the fathers signature? If so, what form would need to be filed, so that I gain complete custody of the child?

--It makes a difference whether you want to pursue a family adoption or child custody by an extended family member. Adoption is permanent. Custody is temporary. It is possible to adopt or be granted custody without the father's consent.

You don't say whether you know the whereabouts of the father. And you don't say whether the father was married to your niece. If they were unmarried and he has never asserted his paternal rights, he might not have any paternal rights. Or his actions may constitute child abandonment, and again, his consent may not be required.Temporary custody by an extended family member falls under Florida Statute 751. The Florida Statutes governing adoption are in Chapter 39. --

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