First DCA Hammers DCF on Failure to Prove Harm

“[T]o support a finding of dependency, the parent’s harmful behavior must pose a present threat to the child based on current circumstances.” C.W. v. Dep’t of Children & Fams., 10 So.3d 136, 138 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009).“[I]n the absence of actual abuse, abandonment, or neglect, a finding of  dependency can be made if prospective abuse, abandonment, or neglect is shown to be imminent. J.B.M. v. Dep’t of Children & Fams., 870 So.2d 946, 951 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004) (citations omitted).“The terms ‘prospective’ and ‘imminent’ are not defined in the statute. ‘Prospective’ simply means likely to ‘happen,’ or ‘expected.’ ‘Imminent’ encompasses a narrower time frame and means ‘impending’ and ‘about to occur’.”E.M.A. v. Dep’t of Children & Fams., 795 So.2d 186 n. 3 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001) (internal citations omitted).

S.S. v DCF, — So.3d —-, 2012 WL 752034 (Fla.1st DCA 2012).

There’s no new law here. The court simply goes through and explains why it believes DCF failed to prove any harm from the mother’s substance abuse, domestic violence, (arguable) medical neglect, and psychiatric instability. It would be an amazing set of kids that really lived through all of that unscathed, but the First does not make presumptions of harm.


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