984.20 Hearings for child-in-need-of-services cases.—
(1) ARRAIGNMENT HEARING.—
(a) When a child has been taken into custody by order of the court, an arraignment hearing shall be held within 7 days after the date the child is taken into custody. The hearing shall be held for the child and the parent, guardian, or custodian to admit, deny, or consent to findings that a child is in need of services as alleged in the petition. If the child and the parent, guardian, or custodian admit or consent to the findings in the petition, the court shall proceed as set forth in the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure. However, if either the child or the parent, guardian, or custodian denies any of the allegations of the petition, the court shall hold an adjudicatory hearing within 7 days after the date of the arraignment hearing.
(b) When a child is in the custody of the parent, guardian, or custodian, upon the filing of a petition, the clerk shall set a date for an arraignment hearing within a reasonable time from the date of the filing of the petition. If the child and the parent, guardian, or custodian admit or consent to an adjudication, the court shall proceed as set forth in the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure. However, if either the child or the parent, guardian, or custodian denies any of the allegations of child in need of services, the court shall hold an adjudicatory hearing within a reasonable time from the date of the arraignment hearing.
(c) If at the arraignment hearing the child and the parent, guardian, or custodian consents or admits to the allegations in the petition and the court determines that the petition meets the requirements of s. 984.15(3)(e), the court shall proceed to hold a disposition hearing at the earliest practicable time that will allow for the completion of a predisposition study.
(2) ADJUDICATORY HEARING.—
(a) The adjudicatory hearing shall be held as soon as practicable after the petition for a child in need of services is filed and in accordance with the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, but reasonable delay for the purpose of investigation, discovery, or procuring counsel or witnesses shall, whenever practicable, be granted. If the child is in custody, the adjudicatory hearing shall be held within 14 days after the date the child was taken into custody.
(b) Adjudicatory hearings shall be conducted by the judge without a jury, applying the rules of evidence in use in civil cases and adjourning the hearings from time to time as necessary. In a hearing on a petition in which it is alleged that the child is a child in need of services, a preponderance of evidence shall be required to establish that the child is in need of services.
(c) All hearings, except as hereinafter provided, shall be open to the public, and no person shall be excluded therefrom except on special order of the judge who, in his or her discretion, may close any hearing to the public when the public interest or the welfare of the child, in his or her opinion, is best served by so doing. Hearings involving more than one child may be held simultaneously when the several children involved are related to each other or were involved in the same case. The child and the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child may be examined separately and apart from each other.
(3) DISPOSITION HEARING.—At the disposition hearing, if the court finds that the facts alleged in the petition of a child in need of services were proven in the adjudicatory hearing, the court shall receive and consider a predisposition study, which shall be in writing and be presented by an authorized agent of the department or its provider.
(a) The predisposition study shall cover:
1. All treatment and services that the parent, guardian, or custodian and child received.
2. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child.
3. The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in lieu of medical care, and other material needs.
4. The length of time that the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home.
6. The moral fitness of the parents.
7. The mental and physical health of the family.
8. The home, school, and community record of the child.
9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
10. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant.
(b) The predisposition study also shall provide the court with documentation regarding:
1. The availability of appropriate prevention, services, and treatment for the parent, guardian, custodian, and child to prevent the removal of the child from the home or to reunify the child with the parent, guardian, or custodian after removal or to reconcile the problems between the parent, guardian, or custodian and the child;
2. The inappropriateness of other prevention, treatment, and services that were available;
3. The efforts by the department to prevent out-of-home placement of the child or, when applicable, to reunify the parent, guardian, or custodian if appropriate services were available;
4. Whether the services were provided;
5. If the services and treatment were provided, whether they were sufficient to meet the needs of the child and the family and to enable the child to remain at home or to be returned home;
6. If the services and treatment were not provided, the reasons for such lack of provision; and
7. The need for, or appropriateness of, continuing such treatment and services if the child remains in the custody of the parent, guardian, or custodian or if the child is placed outside the home.
(c) If placement of the child with anyone other than the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian is being considered, the study shall include the designation of a specific length of time as to when custody by the parent, guardian, or custodian shall be reconsidered.
(d) A copy of this predisposition study shall be furnished to the person having custody of the child at the time such person is notified of the disposition hearing.
Any other relevant and material evidence, including other written or oral reports, may be received by the court in its effort to determine the action to be taken with regard to the child and may be relied upon to the extent of its probative value, even though not competent in an adjudicatory hearing. Except as provided in paragraph (2)(c), nothing in this section shall prohibit the publication of proceedings in a hearing.
(4) REVIEW HEARINGS.—
(a) The court shall hold a review hearing 45 days after the disposition hearing. Additional review hearings may be held as necessary, but no less than 45 days after the date of the last review hearing.
(b) At the review hearings, the court shall close the case if the child has substantially complied with the case plans and court orders and no longer requires continued court supervision, subject to the case being reopened. If the child has significantly failed to comply with the case plan or court orders, the child shall continue to be a child in need of services reviewed by the court as needed, but no less than 45 days after the date of the last review hearing.
History.—s. 8, ch. 87-133; s. 238, ch. 95-147; s. 31, ch. 96-398; s. 106, ch. 97-238; s. 10, ch. 97-281; s. 71, ch. 98-280.