As a Jacksonville area Family Law Attorney I get an exorbitant amount of inquires regarding child custody issues. However, not all of the individuals posing such inquires are the biological parents of the minor child or children. Many aunts, uncles, grandparents and other extended family members seek to gain custody of a family member's minor child or children.
Many of these extended family members have been caring for a minor child or minor children for sometime and have run into many obstacles when trying to make decisions concerning them, whether they are decisions for education or healthcare. Fortunately, the state of Florida has a law on the books that deals with this issue. Florida Statute 751, titled Temporary Custody of Minor Children by Extended Family is the governing law. The purpose of the law is as follows:
(1) Recognize that many minor children in this state live with and are well cared for by members of their extended families. The parents of these children have often provided for their care by placing them temporarily with another family member who is better able to care for them. Because of the care being provided the children by their extended families, they are not dependent children.
(2) Provide for the welfare of a minor child who is living with extended family members. At present, such family members are unable to give complete care to the child in their custody because they lack a legal document that explains and defines their relationship to the child, and they are unable effectively to consent to the care of the child by third parties.
(3) Provide temporary or concurrent custody of a minor child to a family member having physical custody of the minor child to enable the custodian to:
(a) Consent to all necessary and reasonable medical and dental care for the child, including nonemergency surgery and psychiatric care.
(b) Secure copies of the child's records, held by third parties, that are necessary for the care of the child, including, but not limited to:
1. Medical, dental, and psychiatric records.
2. Birth certificates and other records.
3. Educational records.
(c) Enroll the child in school and grant or withhold consent for a child to be tested or placed in special school programs, including exceptional education.
(d) Do all other things necessary for the care of the child.
Be aware, there are specific requirements that must be met when an extended family member petitions a court for custody of a minor child. It is important to make sure everything is done properly and effectively. Thus, it is both beneficial and wise to consult with a Jacksonville area Family Law Attorney before taking any steps.