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Florida Military Mom Fights To Get Kids Back

It is something that would shock most Americans—the idea that someone who leaves home to serve our country could lose their children not only to foster care, but foster care in another state.

That is what longtime Florida resident Amanda Hurst is currently dealing with. Hurst had to go overseas in 2009 to fight with the Army, leaving her children in her stepmother’s care/guardianship. In 2013, her stepmother moved in New Jersey with the children, and they ended up in New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families, supposedly due to their special needs.

New Jersey has agreed to give the children back to their mother in Florida on the condition that the same emergency services the children are receiving in New Jersey continue once they are back in the sunshine state.

How Could This (Legally) Have Happened?

In the state of Florida, guardianship carries very similar legal authority as legal custody when it comes to child custody issues. Because it carries such a strong authority (similar to what the child’s actual biological or adoptive parents have), it is typically arranged for through the dependency or probate court (with the assistance of an experienced attorney).

Types of Guardianship

Under Florida state law, there are various types of guardianships that can be set up, including:

  • Natural: The mother and father jointly are natural guardians of their own children and of their adopted children during the child’s minority. If one parent dies, the surviving parent remains the sole natural guardian (even if they remarry);
  • Minor guardians: Upon petition of a parent, brother, sister, next of kin, or other person interested in the welfare of a minor, a guardian for a minor may be appointed by the court;
  • Emergency temporary guardianship: Prior to appointment of a guardian but after a petition for determination of incapacity, a court may appoint an emergency temporary guardian for the person if it finds that there is imminent danger to the physical or mental health or safety of the person;
  • Standby guardianship: Upon a petition by the natural guardians or a guardian, the court may appoint a standby guardian of a minor;
  • Preneed guardian: An adult may name a preneed guardian by making a written declaration that names the guardian to serve in the event of their own incapacity;
  • Foreign guardian: If Florida becomes the residence of a ward of a foreign guardian, the guardian must file the authenticated order within 60 days after change of residence;
  • Resident guardian of nonresident ward: The court may appoint a person who is qualified to be a guardian of a nonresident ward’s property upon a petition from a foreign guardian, next of kin, or creditor of the ward; and
  • Guardian advocates: A circuit court may appoint a guardian advocate for a person with developmental disabilities.

Contact Us for Advice & Representation in Child Custody Cases

An attorney can help protect your interests at any stage of a child custody issue—even if you find yourself needing to assign guardianship to another family member and want to ensure that your children stay in your state of residence and are returned to you when you get back. Contact the law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. for any assistance with child custody issues.

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