Once upon a time it wasn’t unusual for a family member to care for a relative’s child. Grandparents took care of their grandchildren, sometimes for long periods of time.
Children were sent to aunts and uncles, or an older sibling took over parental responsibilities.
Many times there was no formal custody arrangement at all. The families simply decided among themselves what was best for the children.
Like today the reasons for having a relative care for a child include economic, academic, or job related. Reasons varied just as families vary.
Parents that fall on financial hard times might seek help from their parents or in-laws to take care of their children until they are back on their feet.
High school educational opportunities where children’s aunt and uncle live may be exactly the course of study a teen is seeking, but unavailable in their own school district.
A parent’s substance abuse problem, drugs or alcohol, might
demand that the extended family remove the children from that home until
the parent cleans up.
In the past informal custody arrangements among family members were common and acceptable.
Nowadays society in general and schools in particular demand that child custody be formalized.
Under Florida Statutes 751 an extended family member may petition the court for temporary custody of a minor child.
This law allows a child’s grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, aunts and uncles, great aunts and great uncles, first cousins, adult siblings, or step-parents to petition the court for a temporary order granting custody.
The definition of “extended family
member” is a relative within the third degree by blood or marriage to
The Florida courts have provided a set of forms to address these common situations.
You may file the Petition for Temporary Custody by Extended Family, form 12.970(a) along with the required forms.
Or you can file the Petition for Concurrent Custody by Extended Family, form 12.970(b), with it's required forms.
Read the instructions to these forms carefully, to see which is best for your situation.
Statute 751.03 lists the necessary statements and information that must
be included in the petition for temporary custody:
751.03 Petition for temporary custody; contents.
for temporary custody of a minor child must be verified by the
petitioner and must contain statements, to the best of petitioner's
knowledge and belief, showing:
(1) The name, date of birth, and current address of the child;
(2) The names and current addresses of the child's parents;
(3) The names and current addresses of the persons with whom the child has lived during the past 5 years;
(4) The places where the child has lived during the past 5 years;
(5) Information concerning any custody proceeding in this or any other state with respect to the child;
(6) The residence and post office address of the petitioner;
(7) The petitioner's relationship to the child;
(8) The consent of the child's parents, or the specific acts or
omissions of the parents which demonstrate that the parents have abused,
abandoned, or neglected the child as defined in chapter 39;
(9) Any temporary or permanent orders for child support, the court entering the order, and the case number;
(10) Any temporary or permanent order for protection entered on
behalf of or against either parent, the petitioner, or the child; the
court entering the order; and the case number;
(11) That it is in the best interest of the child for the petitioner to have custody of the child; and
(12) A statement of the period of time the petitioner is
requesting temporary custody, including a statement of the reasons
supporting that request.
Only an extended family member may file a petition under this chapter.
The two petitions are almost identical. With the concurrent custody petition, you are required to have current physical custody.
The instructions on the concurrent custody form states:
You may file a Petition for Concurrent Custody if:
• You have the signed, notarized consents of the child(ren)’s legal parents; OR
• You are an extended family member who is caring full time for the child(ren) in the role of a substitute parent and with whom the child(ren) is (are) presently living.
In addition, you must currently have physical custody of the child(ren) and have had physical custody of the child(ren) for at least 10 days in any 30-day period within the last 12 months; and not have signed, written documentation from a parent which is sufficient to enable you to do all the things necessary to care for the child(ren).
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