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Florida Rules for Alternative Custody Arrangements

Although there are alternative child custody/guardianship arrangements available in Florida, legally establishing these relationships can be very complicated. Florida recognizes various arrangements/options based on what is best for the child: informal/physical custody, temporary custody, informal/physical custody with power of attorney, and guardianship. The goal, in providing these options, is to offer the best legal choices for the family.

Legal Custody

Legal custody of a child is crucial because it involves the right to make all major decisions for your child. This includes, but is not limited to, school registration, medical insurance and care, and other rights related to important decisions for the child.

Informal or Physical Custody

Informal or physical custody involves a relative taking over custody of the child, typically at the request of the child’s parent(s). Parents retain the right to take custody back of the child and make decisions on their behalf. In addition, by state law, relatives such as grandparents and aunts and uncles have superior authority over the guardian with informal or physical custody to make certain decisions that pertain to the child, such as those involving medical care. However, legal custodians can be held legally liable for abandonment, abuse, and other negligent behavior towards the child.

Informal or Physical Custody with Power of Attorney

Providing power of attorney in a child custody case effectively means assigning authority (in the form of a legal document) to the relative in charge of the child to make a particular decision (for example, medical consent). This provides the relative with greater authority than if they simply had informal or physical custody, and the parent with the ability to provide the relative or anyone else the authorization to make important decisions for the child that a parent would normally make.

It is important to note that informal or physical custody is not the same as legal custody, thus if parents wish to provide a relative or other guardian with something similar to legal custody over their child, it is advisable for the parent to sign a power of attorney..

Temporary Physical Custody

Temporary physical custody is exactly what it sounds like – the court designates a relative or other guardian take custody of the child until a more permanent placement is ordered. According to state law, any extended family member who has signed the notarized consent form of the child’s parent or is caring full-time for and living with the child may initiate proceedings for temporary custody of a child.

Guardianship of a Minor

Guardianship carries very similar authority as legal custody. Because the position carries similar authority that a parent would have, it is arranged for through the probate or dependency court.

Contact Us for Advice & Representation in Guardianship Litigation

If a guardian has been appointed in your family law proceeding, an attorney can help you protect your interests while complying with guardianship requirements. In Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton, contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to schedule a consultation.

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