2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Procedures with respect to surrendered infants.
Procedures with respect to surrendered infants.
63.0423 Procedures with respect to surrendered infants.—
(1) Upon entry of final judgment terminating parental rights, a licensed child-placing agency that takes physical custody of an infant surrendered at a hospital, emergency medical services station, or fire station pursuant to s. 383.50 assumes responsibility for the medical and other costs associated with the emergency services and care of the surrendered infant from the time the licensed child-placing agency takes physical custody of the surrendered infant.
(2) The licensed child-placing agency shall immediately seek an order from the circuit court for emergency custody of the surrendered infant. The emergency custody order shall remain in effect until the court orders preliminary approval of placement of the surrendered infant in the prospective home, at which time the prospective adoptive parents become guardians pending termination of parental rights and finalization of adoption or until the court orders otherwise. The guardianship of the prospective adoptive parents shall remain subject to the right of the licensed child-placing agency to remove the surrendered infant from the placement during the pendency of the proceedings if such removal is deemed by the licensed child-placing agency to be in the best interests of the child. The licensed child-placing agency may immediately seek to place the surrendered infant in a prospective adoptive home.
(3) The licensed child-placing agency that takes physical custody of the surrendered infant shall, within 24 hours thereafter, request assistance from law enforcement officials to investigate and determine, through the Missing Children Information Clearinghouse, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and any other national and state resources, whether the surrendered infant is a missing child.
(4) The parent who surrenders the infant in accordance with s. 383.50 is presumed to have consented to termination of parental rights, and express consent is not required. Except when there is actual or suspected child abuse or neglect, the licensed child-placing agency shall not attempt to pursue, search for, or notify that parent as provided in s. 63.088 and chapter 49. For purposes of s. 383.50 and this section, an infant who tests positive for illegal drugs, narcotic prescription drugs, alcohol, or other substances, but shows no other signs of child abuse or neglect, shall be placed in the custody of a licensed child-placing agency. Such a placement does not eliminate the reporting requirement under s. 383.50(7). When the department is contacted regarding an infant properly surrendered under this section and s. 383.50, the department shall provide instruction to contact a licensed child-placing agency and may not take custody of the infant unless reasonable efforts to contact a licensed child-placing agency to accept the infant have not been successful.
(5) A petition for termination of parental rights under this section may not be filed until 30 days after the date the infant was surrendered in accordance with s. 383.50. A petition for termination of parental rights may not be granted until a parent has failed to reclaim or claim the surrendered infant within the time period specified in s. 383.50.
(6) A claim of parental rights of the surrendered infant must be made to the entity having legal custody of the surrendered infant or to the circuit court before which proceedings involving the surrendered infant are pending. A claim of parental rights of the surrendered infant may not be made after the judgment to terminate parental rights is entered, except as otherwise provided by subsection (9).
(7) If a claim of parental rights of a surrendered infant is made before the judgment to terminate parental rights is entered, the circuit court may hold the action for termination of parental rights in abeyance for a period of time not to exceed 60 days.
(a) The court may order scientific testing to determine maternity or paternity at the expense of the parent claiming parental rights.
(b) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the surrendered infant and order whatever investigation, home evaluation, and psychological evaluation are necessary to determine what is in the best interests of the surrendered infant.
(c) The court may not terminate parental rights solely on the basis that the parent left the infant at a hospital, emergency medical services station, or fire station in accordance with s. 383.50.
(d) The court shall enter a judgment with written findings of fact and conclusions of law.
(8) Within 7 business days after recording the judgment, the clerk of the court shall mail a copy of the judgment to the department, the petitioner, and any person whose consent was required, if known. The clerk shall execute a certificate of each mailing.
(9)(a) A judgment terminating parental rights pending adoption is voidable, and any later judgment of adoption of that minor is voidable, if, upon the motion of a parent, the court finds that a person knowingly gave false information that prevented the parent from timely making known his or her desire to assume parental responsibilities toward the minor or from exercising his or her parental rights. A motion under this subsection must be filed with the court originally entering the judgment. The motion must be filed within a reasonable time but not later than 1 year after the entry of the judgment terminating parental rights.
(b) No later than 30 days after the filing of a motion under this subsection, the court shall conduct a preliminary hearing to determine what contact, if any, will be permitted between a parent and the child pending resolution of the motion. Such contact may be allowed only if it is requested by a parent who has appeared at the hearing and the court determines that it is in the best interests of the child. If the court orders contact between a parent and the child, the order must be issued in writing as expeditiously as possible and must state with specificity any provisions regarding contact with persons other than those with whom the child resides.
(c) The court may not order scientific testing to determine the paternity or maternity of the minor until such time as the court determines that a previously entered judgment terminating the parental rights of that parent is voidable pursuant to paragraph (a), unless all parties agree that such testing is in the best interests of the child. Upon the filing of test results establishing that person’s maternity or paternity of the surrendered infant, the court may order visitation only if it appears to be in the best interests of the child.
(d) Within 45 days after the preliminary hearing, the court shall conduct a final hearing on the motion to set aside the judgment and shall enter its written order as expeditiously as possible thereafter.
(10) Except to the extent expressly provided in this section, proceedings initiated by a licensed child-placing agency for the termination of parental rights and subsequent adoption of a newborn left at a hospital, emergency medical services station, or fire station in accordance with s. 383.50 shall be conducted pursuant to this chapter.
History.—s. 5, ch. 2000-188; s. 2, ch. 2001-53; s. 5, ch. 2003-58; s. 3, ch. 2008-90; s. 6, ch. 2012-81.