Section 39.0136, Florida Statutes 2009
39.0136 Time limitations; continuances.--
(1) The Legislature finds that time is of the essence for establishing permanency for a child in the dependency system. Time limitations are a right of the child which may not be waived, extended, or continued at the request of any party except as provided in this section.
(2) The time limitations in this chapter do not include:
(a) Periods of delay resulting from a continuance granted at the request of the child's counsel or the child's guardian ad litem or, if the child is of sufficient capacity to express reasonable consent, at the request or with the consent of the child. The court must consider the best interests of the child when determining periods of delay under this section.
(b) Periods of delay resulting from a continuance granted at the request of any party if the continuance is granted:
1. Because of an unavailability of evidence that is material to the case if the requesting party has exercised due diligence to obtain evidence and there are substantial grounds to believe that the evidence will be available within 30 days. However, if the requesting party is not prepared to proceed within 30 days, any other party may move for issuance of an order to show cause or the court on its own motion may impose appropriate sanctions, which may include dismissal of the petition.
2. To allow the requesting party additional time to prepare the case and additional time is justified because of an exceptional circumstance.
(c) Reasonable periods of delay necessary to accomplish notice of the hearing to the child's parent or legal custodian; however, the petitioner shall continue regular efforts to provide notice to the parents during the periods of delay.
(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), in order to expedite permanency for a child, the total time allowed for continuances or extensions of time may not exceed 60 days within any 12-month period for proceedings conducted under this chapter. A continuance or extension of time may be granted only for extraordinary circumstances in which it is necessary to preserve the constitutional rights of a party or if substantial evidence exists to demonstrate that without granting a continuance or extension of time the child's best interests will be harmed.
(4) Notwithstanding subsection (2), a continuance or an extension of time is limited to the number of days absolutely necessary to complete a necessary task in order to preserve the rights of a party or the best interests of a child.
History.--s. 4, ch. 2006-86.