On February 3, 2022 the Supreme Court of Florida approved proposed amendments to the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure; and it seems more change is coming from the legislature. The new trend is showing a broadening of rights and protections for juveniles. Among the rules that were amended and/or added are, 8.217, 8.305, and 8.345. Although there were many important changes approved these are some of the most important ones. First, rule 8.217 now adds the words “attorney for the child” when the caregiver has objected to “a change in the child’s physical custody placement.”2 This differs from the previous rule which only required the child have attorney ad litem.3 Another amended rule is 8.305 which now prioritizes “out-of-home placements, including fictive kin, or nonrelatives.” Lastly, rule 8.345 which focuses on Post-Disposition Relief has been amended so that it now provides that “a hearing must be held if any party or the current caregiver denies the need for a change [to custody placement] and creates a rebuttable presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to remain permanently in the current physical placement if certain conditions are present.”
It seems that these newly proposed amendments are just some in the new era of juvenile procedural change. The Florida Senate approved this same week a juvenile expungement bill. This bill would “broaden a juvenile’s ability to expunge their arrest record in Florida.”4 This would favor the juvenile clients that want to continue a life free of the bitter reminder of their conviction. Now more than ever Florida attorneys need to keep a close eye to the changes coming to juvenile law. Time to shepardize the law.
3 An attorney ad litem is a court-appointed lawyer who represents a child during the course of a legal action, such as a divorce, termination, or child-abuse case. The attorney owes to the child the duties of loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/ad_litem