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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title V
JUDICIAL BRANCH
Chapter 39
PROCEEDINGS RELATING TO CHILDREN
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F.S. 39.801
39.801 Procedures and jurisdiction; notice; service of process.
(1) All procedures, including petitions, pleadings, subpoenas, summonses, and hearings, in termination of parental rights proceedings shall be according to the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure unless otherwise provided by law.
(2) The circuit court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction of a proceeding involving termination of parental rights.
(3) Before the court may terminate parental rights, in addition to the other requirements set forth in this part, the following requirements must be met:
(a) Notice of the date, time, and place of the advisory hearing for the petition to terminate parental rights and a copy of the petition must be personally served upon the following persons, specifically notifying them that a petition has been filed:
1. The parents of the child.
2. The legal custodians of the child.
3. If the parents who would be entitled to notice are dead or unknown, a living relative of the child, unless upon diligent search and inquiry no such relative can be found.
4. Any person who has physical custody of the child.
5. Any grandparent entitled to priority for adoption under s. 63.0425.
6. Any prospective parent who has been identified under s. 39.503 or s. 39.803, unless a court order has been entered pursuant to s. 39.503(4) or (9) or s. 39.803(4) or (9) which indicates no further notice is required. Except as otherwise provided in this section, if there is not a legal father, notice of the petition for termination of parental rights must be provided to any known prospective father who is identified under oath before the court or who is identified by a diligent search of the Florida Putative Father Registry. Service of the notice of the petition for termination of parental rights is not required if the prospective father executes an affidavit of nonpaternity or a consent to termination of his parental rights which is accepted by the court after notice and opportunity to be heard by all parties to address the best interests of the child in accepting such affidavit.
7. The guardian ad litem for the child or the representative of the guardian ad litem program, if the program has been appointed.

The document containing the notice to respond or appear must contain, in type at least as large as the type in the balance of the document, the following or substantially similar language: “FAILURE TO PERSONALLY APPEAR AT THIS ADVISORY HEARING CONSTITUTES CONSENT TO THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS OF THIS CHILD (OR CHILDREN). IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR ON THE DATE AND TIME SPECIFIED, YOU MAY LOSE ALL LEGAL RIGHTS AS A PARENT TO THE CHILD OR CHILDREN NAMED IN THE PETITION ATTACHED TO THIS NOTICE.”

(b) If a party required to be served with notice as prescribed in paragraph (a) cannot be served, notice of hearings must be given as prescribed by the rules of civil procedure, and service of process must be made as specified by law or civil actions.
(c) Notice as prescribed by this section may be waived, in the discretion of the judge, with regard to any person to whom notice must be given under this subsection if the person executes, before two witnesses and a notary public or other officer authorized to take acknowledgments, a written surrender of the child to a licensed child-placing agency or the department.
(d) If the person served with notice under this section fails to personally appear at the advisory hearing, the failure to personally appear shall constitute consent for termination of parental rights by the person given notice. If a parent appears for the advisory hearing and the court orders that parent to personally appear at the adjudicatory hearing for the petition for termination of parental rights, stating the date, time, and location of said hearing, then failure of that parent to personally appear at the adjudicatory hearing shall constitute consent for termination of parental rights.
(4) Upon the application of any party, the clerk or deputy clerk shall issue, and the court on its own motion may issue, subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of records, documents, or other tangible objects at any hearing.
(5) All process and orders issued by the court must be served or executed as other process and orders of the circuit court and, in addition, may be served or executed by authorized agents of the department or the guardian ad litem.
(6) Subpoenas may be served within the state by any person over 18 years of age who is not a party to the proceeding and, in addition, may be served or executed by authorized agents of the department or of the guardian ad litem.
(7) A fee may not be paid for service of any process or other papers by an agent of the department or the guardian ad litem. If any process, orders, or other papers are served or executed by any sheriff, the sheriff’s fees must be paid by the county.
History.s. 9, ch. 87-289; s. 1, ch. 92-96; s. 32, ch. 94-164; ss. 6, 11, ch. 97-276; s. 83, ch. 98-403; s. 42, ch. 99-193; s. 21, ch. 2017-151.
Note.Former ss. 39.46, 39.462.