Fourth DCA: Case plan tasks preventing contact between parents are legit

In a small number of cases, one parent’s compliance with their case plan will be contingent upon their ending contact with the other parent.  Over a Free Association challenge, the Fourth DCA says this is not an unconstitutional infringement of association:

As to the father’s claim that his constitutional right to free association with the mother was infringed, his contact with the mother was a factor in the trial court’s decision to terminate rights. The mother’s rights had also been terminated, and the court had determined that she remained a danger to the children. Despite this, the father remained in contact with the mother and indicated that he would continue to involve the mother in the children’s lives. The trial court did not violate the father’s constitutional rights. The right to free association in personal relationships, which includes a parent’s right to the care and upbringing of his child, is not absolute, and infringements may be justified by a compelling state interest in the protection of children. See D.D. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 849 So.2d 473 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003)(state has compelling interest in protection of children and does not violate that test when it interferes with father’s fundamental right to parent child through the exercise of its authority under Chapter 39, Florida Statutes).

P.O. v. DCF, — So.3d —- (Fla. 4th DCA) (July 17, 2013).


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