Upon consideration, we adopt the amendments to rule 8.255(b) as proposed by the Committee in its revised proposal. The amendments address the right of a child to be present at all hearings in dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings, as well as the duty of the trial judge to make the appropriate best interest determinations regarding the child’s presence. Subdivision (b)(1) states that the child has the right to be present at “all hearings.” Moreover, new subdivision (b)(3) is added requiring that, if the child is not present, the court shall inquire and determine the reason for the child’s absence. The trial judge must then determine whether it is in the child’s best interest to conduct the hearing without the presence of the child, or to continue the hearing so as to allow the child the opportunity to be present. Under new subdivision (b)(2), if the child is present at the hearing, the court may excuse the child if it would not be in the child’s best
interest to remain.
In re Amendments to the Florida Rule of Juvenile Procedure 8.255 (Fla. 2012).
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