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Temporary Custody for Extended Family Members


There come times, either voluntarily or involuntarily, when an extended family member may need to take temporary custody of a child. In Florida, the process for how exactly this works is governed by Chapter 751 of the Florida Statutes. Here, our Orlando child custody attorneys answer some frequently asked questions regarding family member temporary custody in Florida.

Temporary Custody: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Seek Temporary Custody?

If a child (of a family member) is already living with you, you may believe that temporary custody is not needed. However, for many different reasons, having official child custody authority bestowed on you is very important. For example, having child custody gives one the power to make medical or educational decisions for a child. Further, it allows a person to obtain a child’s medical or school-related records. The bottom line is that dealing with a child’s medical care and education can be a challenging process. It is far easier with temporary legal custody. Additionally, in some cases, temporary custody is sought to protect the child from a parent that the relative deems to be negligent or reckless.

Which Family Members are Eligible Under State Law?

In Florida, many, but not all, extended family members may be eligible to seek temporary custody under Chapter 751 of the state statutes. Specifically, the eligible family members include:

  • Grandparents and great grandparents;
  • Brothers and sisters;
  • Uncle and aunts;
  • First cousins; and
  • Step parents, assuming the individual is married to one of the child’s legal guardians.

When Will Temporary Custody End?

In Florida, temporary child custody has no defined duration. Though, this custody can be ended in multiple different ways. First, the extended family member in question can voluntarily relinquish child custody back to one, or both, of the child’s parent. Further, at any time, the child’s parents can petition to have the temporary custody removed, with or without the consent of the extended family member. If that occurs, a Florida judge will have to determine if ending the temporary custody is truly in the best interests of the child.

Is Parental Consent Required?

Parental consent is not legally required; though, when obtainable, it is always better for extended relatives to get consent. Indeed, getting consent from the child’s parents will make the custody process far smoother. When consent is given, courts will almost always defer to the judgment of the parties to the case. This means that the extended family member in question will have little trouble getting their petition for temporary custody approved.

On the other hand, if the child’s parent actively objects, the temporary custody process will be far more challenging. An extended family member can still potentially obtain temporary custody under these circumstances, but they will need to prove that it is in the best interests of the child for custody to be transferred. This is a high burden to meet, as there is a legal presumption that it is best for children to be with their parents. However, if the parent is negligent, reckless, abusive or a danger to the child’s well-being for any other reason, temporary custody may be transferred to a family member.

Get Family Law Assistance in Central Florida

At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., we provide compassionate family law assistance to clients throughout the Orlando area. For more information about what we can do for you, please call us today at 407-521-7171 to set up your fully private, no-obligation initial consultation.



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